When I was at school at the end of term we would have a school disco. The idea was that it provided a chance for us to enjoy ourselves with our friends, and also to act as a little ritual to mark the Christmas or summer holidays beginning. As a teenage boy these events were extremely emotionally loaded affairs. Hormones were raging and it was a rare chance to dance with girls and also find your place within the social context of your peers. At the age of 13 I was very sensitive, shy, and unconfident. As the sound of The Specials’ ‘Ghost Town’ played out across the hall, I could often be found with a group of equally shy friends standing glued to the wall looking on nervously as more adventurous members of my school had made it on to the dance floor and were dancing, and laughing. As I stood there standing somewhat awkwardly in the corner trying not to be noticed, I became aware of a huge tension between the part of me that wanted to participate, to join the dance with others, to be a part of something connected and alive, and also aware of the fears that kept me from doing this: Fear of making a fool of myself, fear of not being able to dance, and even a fear of rejection.
School discos are like life. We can choose to sit on the sidelines watching passively as the dance of life with all its joys and pains moves and unfolds before us. Or we can embrace our fears and step into life, into feeling connected to others, allowing ourselves to be seen, to love and be loved, to be vulnerable and to be strong, to make mistakes and get things right, allowing ourselves to live. Our lives are very short, life is unpredictable, things are in constant flux; every moment things are coming into being and passing away – our thoughts, emotions, the seasons, relationships. If we can stay emotionally open and engaged with ourselves and life, allowing for a sense of intimacy, to be touched by others and the world around us, then life reveals it self to us in all its fullness.
“The aim of life is to live, and to live means to be aware, joyously, drunkenly, serenely, divinely aware.” Henry Miller