Happiness II: Eating
Happiness III: Making Noise
|Mary Beth, my sister, on the left|
"Mary Beth is equally famous in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area because of her contagious, positive, dynamic personality. Among her circle of friends are musicians, artisans, professionals, and regular folks of every persuasion who have all enjoyed the best conversations and
dancing of their livesbecause they shared them with Mary Beth."
You'd be hard-pressed to find a picture when she was still. She moved more in her lifetime than I ever will, despite losing her to the errant driving of a self-described Christian missionary.
Mary Beth knew deeply that in many ways humans are fucked by our own behavior, something most of us deliberately ignore. She also knew she was mortal, and lived that way--mortality made her fearless.
Still, she danced.
And danced and danced and danced.
It's hard to be unhappy when you are dancing, even when you are aware of so much sadness.
She changed much of her part of the world--she worked nationally on environmental issues that affected all of us, and her work required all of her.
But all of her included dancing.
We tell our children to sit down. We train them to sit still for long periods of time.
We do this even though we now know that this is dangerous.
Mammals were never meant to be compliant.
Social, yes--doing things together is not the same thing as compliance.
Our bodies are meant to move, to twist and wiggle, to walk and gallop, to sprint and jump and, yes, to dance.
Labour is blossoming or dancing where
The body is not bruised to pleasure soul,
Nor beauty born out of its own despair,
Nor blear-eyed wisdom out of midnight oil.
O chestnut tree, great rooted blossomer,
Are you the leaf, the blossom or the bole?
O body swayed to music, O brightening glance,
How can we know the dancer from the dance?
W.B. Yeats, from "Among School Children"
The dominant culture does not trust dancing so much, no surprise since it does not trust our bodies, our mammalness, our humanness. Our culture needs bodies, of course, and when it did not have enough, it took them and tried to strip the human from them.
Many pale folk fear what they perceive as a monolithic black culture--though praise it for entertainment. This is no accident, and is only genetic in a cultural sense.
If white folk can't dance, it's because we, as a culture, have chosen not to, and do not trust our bodies/ourselves to be
It's always OK for children to dance for joy. Same goes for you, dear reader.