I Hope You Dance

Almost daily I cross paths with the same woman.  I don’t know her name or anything about her.  I do, however, gather plenty of assumptions about her – through my astute observations, of course.

To judge the woman by her physical appearance, one might fear that she is malnourished.  Her brittle hair and bony skeleton are blatant cues.  In fact, everything about her persona suggests frailty – the way she avoids eye contact, the slumped shoulders, the baggy clothing.  My thoughts about her concern me.

I worry about this woman I’ve never spoken to.  I wonder about the circumstances of her misery.  Is she abused?  Has she endured an unspeakable tragedy?  Is she terminally ill?  Surely, she has suffered.  I want to help but I decide to respect her solitude and hope that she somehow absorbs my silent blessings for her well-being.

I have pegged this woman to a wall of misery.  With deep regret, I’ve pitied her, or rather, my impression of her.  Until today.

Today I saw the woman through the glass doors of a room.  She was alone and didn’t know anyone could see her.  But I saw her.  Really saw her for the first time.  And she was dancing!  My frumpy, forlorn, fabulous friend was dancing like no one was watching.  She was energized and confident and carefree and not at all like the woman I ‘knew.’

I smiled a great big huge smile in spite of myself.  Because I was dead wrong – again. She wasn’t lifeless or hopeless or helpless.  She just looked that way, to me, on the outside.  And I let the outside inform me about the inside, which is such a rookie move.

I gazed at the dancing woman for as long as I dared, transfixed like a child watching a music box dancer.  I wanted desperately to tell her how she helped me find my happy today.  But I feared that she might be self-conscious and stop dancing – forever.  So I settled on telling you, because I had to share my gratitude with someone.  And I thought, maybe, it would inspire you to start dancing or to keep dancing even if you know someone’s watching.

I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean
Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens
Promise me that you’ll give faith a fighting chance
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance
I hope you dance

 ‘I Hope You Dance’ by Lee Ann Womack

Dance on, my friends, dance on.



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