My memories of India are vibrant and vivid, if limited. Of course some might be impressed at how much I remember considering I was three and a half years old.
One memory involves a bike incident. The lady watching over me had said I could ride on the back, but would need to keep my legs apart. I remember thinking it would be no problem. At first it was fine. Then my legs grew a bit tired, and began to sag, and I kept having to reset the distance. I must have been in a tired moment, and she had to swerve and the skin on the back of my heel was painfully shaved off. Not fun, but a vivid recollection.
Another memory was at a farmer's market type of setting. I remember her haggling vaguely over some kind of produce, and I wandered to the end of the table and wound up standing in a pile of ants. They crawled up my legs, and then they began biting, because they were fire ants aka red ants. I distinctly remember being lifted out of the pile and friendly hands brushing the biters off my legs.
The ground was always really hot. The cows were emaciated. The 'toilet' was a hole in the ground meant for grown-ups to straddle, and since I was too little to fit my legs on either side I had to hang off the edge and hope I didn't lose my balance. I remember a beggar woman holding a baby, and asking if we could give her a coin and a certain man responded that it probably wasn't even her baby. I still wish we had given her a coin, because my heart went out to her and the baby. And if it isn't her baby it doesn't matter because her need was still real. Or maybe food...something. Not that we were wealthy, just that we had a heart and enough. And my need to offer help was not met that day.
The most important memory though was running around with the other kids. It was an entity, a group without boundaries. Kids of varying ages, and no discernible leader, they accepted me--swept me up-- and included me in whatever was happening. There is no distinguished member of the group that stands out, no adventure in particular that I can recall. Just a complete feeling of belonging, joining in, flowing together like so many drops of water in a stream moving in the same direction.
Maybe that is part of why I like dancing in a group so much. It is a silent communion of shared experience, and it is the closest I've come to reproducing that same feeling. Wordless, soundless, we all move to the same music and when it's done we re-pair and do it again.
This acceptance was, by the way, in stark contrast once we got to Germany. And that can't be blamed on a language barrier, because I didn't speak Hindi either. Someday I may want to revisit India to see if I still find that feeling there. Maybe it was because I was not self-conscious then. Maybe it was an age thing. But the kids in Germany did not include me, and made efforts to stay away from me. In Germany I related better with people much older than myself. So strange.
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The Double Meaning behind the blog title 'Dream Follower:'
First, for 14 years I was a ballroom & social dance instructor, and have studied both leading and following. I feel that learning to follow is full of nuance and is often misunderstood. I made it one of my personal goals to become a really excellent follow on the dance floor, and will probably talk a lot about the art of following - both in and out of the context of dance.
Second, I am a huge fan of author Michael Ende, probably best known for The Neverending Story. The book is incredible, and the first film captured some of the essence. (Please don't watch the other two films...I urge you to read the book though!) Anyway, at least twice in my life I have been caught in a storm of my own indecision, and my inner Moon Princess yelled to my inner Bastian...'Why don't you do what you dream?' I tear up even now as I write this little blurb. The tension between being practical, keeping my feet on the ground and my head out of the clouds (at the risk of compromising my inner vibrancy, true self, and who knows what else)...and reaching for my true dreams (at the risk of losing everything) is still a very real struggle. In fact, one of those struggles lead to my 14 years of teaching dance, so we can see which voice won the battle that fateful day when I was staring at the want-ad...
And so I strive to be two kinds of Dream Followers in my life. One has to do with connecting with others, and the other has to do with connecting with my inner Moon Princess and the world of possibility that opens when I do...