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The Dancing Instructor

by Thomas Eldridge

It was Monday, midday. The newsletter had gone out the previous night as it always does. It was not unusual for some "Unsubscribe" emails to arrive on Monday. I have learned that personal responsibility or truth, or whatever it is that I write about in the newsletter, can be too much for some people, but this was an unusual number of them. By late afternoon, with more emails arriving, I was feeling a little deflated.

I decided to go to a swing dance class that evening for some relaxation. Dancing is a long time form of relaxation for me. I knew the instructor that night was not my favorite, but I wanted to simply go to class, maybe learn some new steps or leads, or maybe not. The instructor was definitely 'into teaching'. About one-half hour into the class he had already come up behind me more than once to watch me make mistakes in my steps and leads. Now, here he was again. I could feel him behind me, watching ever so closely. Suddenly, he was beside me counting: one, two three, and, four, five, six, and, over and over he paced me through the steps.

I felt as if I was in a military boot camp or a high school gymnasium being taught precision marching. I was steadily losing it. I could not concentrate. The intimidation was just too much, but I also could not walk off the dance floor or tell him to get lost. I was in sensitive freeze, big time. Then, he said, "Now, practice that." He did not walk away to someone else as he normally would. He stood watching me, from the side this time. It took about 15 seconds for me to lose my step again. He said, "You missed step five." That was it. I felt my insides cave in and I was beginning to tremble. I turned to him and said, "I have to leave, I can't keep up to your pace." In that way that bullies have when they have been tormenting you he said, "Relax" and walked away. With that remark he had absolved himself of any responsibility. My dancing partner, a lovely understanding woman, said, "Don't leave, stay." I said I was sorry but I could not pull myself back together.

It was ironic in that there was this wonderful dance tune playing throughout the entire trauma. I walked out of the building with that tune in my head. I was an emotional mess for the rest of the night. Back home I had a large piece of pumpkin pie, but that didn't help. I went to bed thinking that this is going to be one of those nights full of anxiety dreams while my benevolent unconscious brings me back to balance.

The night was uneventful until sometime before dawn. Then, in my dream, there I was, at a men's gathering. All the men were sitting in a large circle. As my transformed eagle-self, I flew in with my huge eagle wings soaring over them in a slow, circular pattern. A few of the men had their eyes open in wide-eyed astonishment at seeing me silently gliding over their heads. I then flew outside and over to the entranceway to the underworld. The spirit-eagle left me as it soared down into its home.

I lay motionless on the ground at the entranceway, on my back with my eyes closed, as the men gathered around me. They thought I was dead until one of them noticed my quiet breathing. I felt an ant crawl onto my face and I knew that if I brushed it off I would come out of my peaceful, thankful state. Then I felt a feather wing gently brush the ant to the ground. In that moment I knew I had felt God's touch.

I woke up from this dream thinking that the moment the ant was brushed away, was the most relevant moment of the preceding 24 hours. It was the counterpoint to the dancing instructor. I was healed from the wounds of humiliation from the previous evening on the dance floor, and from the sense of rejection I had felt on the previous day.

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End of sensitivity article.