Monthly Archives: February 2021

That Certain Something

*The stories in this blog I’ve shared in other places. The difference here is I’m focusing on that certain something. Enjoy!

I confess I rather enjoyed being not–so–discreetly perused by the slightly disapproving eyes of those around me—most notably from the older women, escorted by their distinguished husbandry, drenched in their long furs, dawning freshly coiffured colored perms, and swaying those dangly earrings side to side with every move. All notable signs of those known to be well–appointed and, of course, destined to sit in the front row of the mezzanine of the Mississippi Coast Coliseum that night in 1979 in Biloxi, Mississippi.

And then there was me—likely not so well–appointed, as I was unescorted and very pregnant, arriving in my low–cut scarlet red gown and daring to sit in the front row, center seat. Now the low–cut part likely caused my most salacious grin as I had only recently become quite voluptuous as a result of being pregnant. And I did have a pair of those dangly earrings to sway alongside my long, loosely hanging, hair. But while, yes, I was enjoying some of the novel attention I was arousing, nothing could have detracted my mood which, by this time, was already in full aerobatic mode—leaping over the railing and down onto the stage where, very soon now, I knew my heart would be dancing with Mikhail Baryshnikov. If this wasn’t heaven, I couldn’t have told you what was.

But, as I would come to discover often, the great gift I was to receive that night was even grander than Baryshnikov himself. You see, there had been some buzz about Baryshnikov being ill and even, perhaps, not being able to perform. Luckily, another great ballet dancer of the day, Peter Martins, was also to perform.

So, the evening performance began with Martins. Having taken ballet since I was young and had even danced in a small local company, the Pensacola Civic Ballet, the year before, I knew something about what I was watching. And Martins was absolutely technically brilliant. No question. Brilliant. But, then a short intermission and . . . suddenly there was Baryshnikov leaping through the air with such power and grace that we were all jolted up out of our seats gasping and clapping in response to some ubiquitous, primal, involuntary force. Now, there had been some intermittent clapping for Martins’ technically brilliant performance—but nothing like this.

As I watched throughout the evening, I could see that, at least on this night, Baryshnikov was not as technically brilliant at Martins. But it didn’t seem to matter because Baryshnikov just had that . . . certain something.

I had seen and experienced that certain something close up a few years before in an adult ballet class in Honolulu, Hawaii. My teacher’s name was Jack Clause and he definitely did not look like a ballet dancer. He was rather short and stocky but his face—oh my, that face held me fast. You did not come to class late. Always proper attire. No chit–chat allowed. Yet, each week, when I walked into his classroom, I just knew something special was about to happen.

“Be beautiful!” he would bellow. “There are many technicians but very few dancers! Be a dancer!” Now, I can tell you that most adult dancers, out of prime and usually far from years of practice, often do not look so beautiful moving across the floor. But, in Jack’s class, suddenly I didn’t care if I could do that Grand Jete really high or not. Off I’d go as if I could fly—because that certain something in him had ignited that certain something in me that told me I could. And, it didn’t matter how beautiful I looked, or didn’t look, to others. Not on the radar. No, most importantly, it was how I always felt in his class and, afterwards too, as I continued to Grand Jete down the sidewalk to catch the last bus home. Later I would learn that, in part, that certain something had come from his knowing that he had a terminal illness and could die at any time. No time for chit–chat . . . indeed. Only time for beauty. And for doing what you love.

We all recognize this certain something when we see it. It certainly exists in all the great ones who’ve spent years honing a craft to technical brilliance to suddenly discover that, in moments, their craft is now doing them. Still, as I discovered in my dance class with Jack, even if we haven’t spent years developing a skill or craft, we can still experience that certain something when we fully let go into what we love. It’s been forty–five years since I saw Jack’s beaming face that sparked that certain something in me. Yet, it’s like it was just yesterday. This tells me that that certain something is eternally alive, woven intrinsically into our DNA, and forever pointing us toward our true love . . . and when we have the courage to fully let go into its force, we too can suddenly, and quite ahhhhmazingly, have times when we feel like life is doing us. And, we . . . well, we’re just along for the ride.

What is it that you truly love? What sparks your heart to carefree gladness? What leaves you speechless and lost in time? What if you could let go of how it looks, how good you are or may feel you need to be? What might happen if you could just fall into its beauty, its power, its grace, its force—the force that’s actually pulling you toward itself?

Perhaps you too would discover your own certain something . . .

Like how just a few Grand Jetes down a Honolulu sidewalk could stir a magic that would last a lifetime.

PS: Would you like to test my hypothesis? Check out the first minute and about ten seconds of this video of Baryshnikov as a young man and ask yourself, “Is he dancing or is he being danced?” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UApNesAfyps

And here is a picture from that evening all those year ago. And, no! He’s not being held up by strings like Peter Pan!!

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The Pearl

Whenever sorrow comes, be kind to it. For God has placed a pearl in sorrow’s hand. Rumi

It’s a funny thing about those pearls. They’re only found in the depths of the ocean floor. Hidden in the deepest recesses out of sight and out of reach. We cherish them for their purity and beauty but truth is most of us wouldn’t choose to make the long journey down to uncover them. Instead, we’re happy to enjoy them in the bright light that lingers just above the water’s edge.

And then something happens. In our case, it was those letters, blazing red and in all caps, POSITIVE. Doug and I had both tested positive for COVID–19. And before I could fully recover or comprehend what was happening, Doug became very sick. And, day by day, I felt like I was being pulled down, down, down, into those darker and darker waters where I could no longer see or navigate. And, yet, it was in those very depths, at those very times, just when I felt I could simply go no further, that the pearl somehow found me—the one God had put there in sorrow’s hand—waiting just within my reach. And it seemed to say to me . . .

You are not alone. I am here with both of you. Place all of you, and all of Doug, in God’s hands. And rest.

Rest. This is the blessed gift of the pearl that God leaves in sorrow’s opened hand. Blessedly, in times like these, I often imagine myself laying down, with all the despair, struggle and fear, to rest fully in the cupped hands of God who, alone, I know can carry me through. And, in such moments, my quiet, still, heart can only wonder, “What greater gift, treasure, could there possibly be?” For now, my sorrow’s hand has become God’s hands.  

Some folks think it’s only spiritual to stay on the surface and to bask in the sunlight wearing that new strand of pearls. That somehow the darkness of the deep waters is outside of God’s realm and purview. I would disagree. I believe it is God’s true purview. While the mind loves to surf off the shoreline, the soul alone knows the true depths. All I know is that the deepest love I’ve ever known, been shown, lived has happened in those deep waters where I’ve found the only true rest in those cupped hands of God.

We blossom, not in spite of, but because of. I can already hear the deepening whispers and etheric melodies breathing through my heart ready to burst out singing on my walks at 3 Feathers this summer. I know I will look at Doug across the room a little longer and smile that smile only he knows. I know I’ll hug my children a little tighter and spend time treasure hunting with my grandkids a little longer. For nothing brings us to life like just the threat of death.

Gratefully, Doug is doing better day by day. Me too. I only had mild symptoms which allowed me to care for him as I’ve been able. But even as we make our journey back to normal, I find I still hold that pearl close—the one from the dark depths. And when I am just still and quiet enough, I can still hear it speaking:

Remember that it is out of the depths that I come to shine in the light of day. No darkness, deadly current or undertow can erase my gift for you. No matter how hidden I may seem, I’m always waiting for you. Swim deep. And know you can always find me nestled there in your fingers, right where God has left me. . .

illuminating your sorrow’s hand.  

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