As a relatively young person, our family was heading for a swim in the not actually blue Danube river in Austria. We were going to a section that is a nude beach, and being a bit self-conscious I asked if there would be a changing area once we got there. The ensuing laughter resulted in me wearing my bathing suit underneath my shorts for the bike ride. Funny how we expect to feel does not always match how we feel...reminds me of a Malcolm Gladwell comment about being pretty poor predictors of our own happiness. I was sure wearing my bathing suit would make me feel more comfortable at this nude beach. I was wrong. Being the only person in sight wearing a bathing suit made me so self-conscious because I was getting side-long glances. Turns out I felt much more comfortable blending in by being just like everyone else---nude.
Which brings me to one of the running theme questions/concepts. Our human need for belonging, blending in, feeling 'normal' or whatever you might call that urge is an acknowledged need. At the same time we seem to have an equally strong need for recognition. Are these needs in opposition? Can they both be fulfilled simultaneously or are they alternating needs? Must we swing from one extreme to another to achieve balance in our lives, or can we walk a tightrope of fine balance between being remarkable individuals and homogeneous blob-like sense of belonging?
It reminds me in a way of Plotinus' one versus many. Or the quantum physics conundrum of particle and wave behavior. How can something be both? But many things are both. And maybe we can never remove the observer and therefore we will spend eternity chasing our tail. I just hope someone is amused by our antics the way I am amused watching a dog chase its own tail.
It hurts my brain, kind of like trying to actually comprehend infinity. Or zero. They kind of occupy the same space of unknowable-ness in my brain. But maybe, even if they are unknow-able, we can feel like we have an understanding.
Instinctively belonging and being unique are not only not mutually exclusive--they sort of might be two sides of the same coin.
In any case, I thought I would share this nude beach lesson. I was much more at ease blending in with my fellow nudists than I imagined I would be!
Thank you for visiting!
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...