Sunday, May 2, 2010

While I'm Still Alive

If only I'd met you when we were still alive. ~ Jack Nicholson, The Bucket List
That may not be the exact wording, but it's close enough for government work. I've never seen The Bucket List, though I know the premise. Two guys with terminal illnesses take off to tick off a list of things they wanted to do before they died. I was munching a chocolate chunk scone this morning when I ran across it, and hearing this line, did what any writer worth his salt would do, and that's head for the computer.

To female readers, this is a red flag. Saul Bellow said, "All a writer has to do to get women is say he's a writer. It's an aphrodisiac." Whether that's true or not, I wouldn't know -- maybe it has something to do with being a famous writer and I'm definitely not there yet -- but I can say, that at any given moment, maybe even the moment, your writer-lover is likely to suddenly adopt a distant look and dash away to your lap-dancing competitor, a "electrifying" chick named Dell (or Apple). It's nothing personal, but if you want to put her in her place, ask what he's thinking, memorize it, and feed it back to him later. All's fair in love and writing.

Anyway, back to Jack's line. What came to mind, mid-way between the television in the living room and my study at the other end of the house, was the look in the eyes of my dancing partners last night when I finally began getting the steps right. You have to remember, I'm inclined to approach this whole thing like a medical student with a master's degree in concentration, determined to get an A on the final. The women are moving with a swing of the hips, unnervingly reminding me that they're women, while I've got rigor mortis -- I'm stiff as a board.

But a couple of times, everything came together and my mind switched into neutral. My body took over, the steps fell in line, and I thought I heard my Guardian Angel sighing, "At last!" from a corner of the room. Of course, I straightaway forgot everything I'd learned, got my feet tangled together, tried to think my way out, and couldn't do a darned thing. When it was right, however, my partners looked at me and "Wow..." trickled from the corners of their eyes.

I wonder what my life would have been like had I learned to dance when I was younger. I know, it doesn't sound like that big a deal and maybe it isn't, but I'm thinking about the feeling of confidence I take away every Saturday when I walk down the stairway from the second floor, arts-district studio, step outside, and the cool night air hits my sweat- soaked chest. I'm the same guy I was when I arrived but I feel different. I feel like I can do things and they're waiting for me round the next corner. I honestly don't know what I would have done, but I'm glad I'm learning what I can do now, while I'm still alive to find out.

(Creative Commons image of couple at 8th Annual University of Michigan Ballroom Dance Competition by Wigwam Jones via Flickr)

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