15 March 2009

Get the Balance Right

I think striking a balance is really hard for me.  Earlier this summer my father said to me, "I'm not an 'all or nothing person,'" and in thinking about it even as he said it I knew, I am.  I throw myself into the things I decide to do, and because of that throwing they become terribly important to me.

I think about this today because at tango last night I was twice told to relax, and when I was able to do so it made a huge difference to my dancing (which made me think, How do you relax and yet learn or perform new steps?  I suppose the answer is, you practice those steps to perfection before you perform them [which is what I would do, not being able to strike a balance], or you decide that your partner will be forgiving of the fact that you're just beginning, and you stumble about a bit until you don't stumble about anymore [which is what I'd like to be able to do]).

But it's not just tango.  I think I often have trouble relaxing and finding a balance in something as simple as a conversation.  If there's anything at stake - the possibility of friendship, a desire to be found amusing or interesting - I tend to try too hard, which means (unsurprisingly) that I often put my foot in it.  Or, alternatively, I worry that I have put my foot in it, this worry possibly lasting for hours, or even days (and, incidentally, in the case of friendship this mindset can persist for YEARS).  This would seem to have little to do with balance, being rather about relaxation (which, like everyone else, I find difficult when I'm in a situation that matters).  But in fact, I think it does trace back to balance, because if I could put less emphasis on, say, a given conversation, or a given dance, or a given chapter, I would relax more.

One thing I always wonder in situations where my lack of relaxation has made me say something awkward, or flippant (the worst), is the degree to which the other person noticed.  I suspect that often people don't have a problem with the remarks I consider to be mis-steps - perhaps they don't even process them.  At the very least, if other people are with me the way I am with them, they just think that sometimes people say weird stuff, and they write it off.  I'd love to know, though.

I'm not going to say that I'm going to work harder on striking a balance, because I think that the very phrase "work harder" suggests the lack of balance I would experience as I practised trying to strike a balance.  So instead I'll say that I'm going to try to relax a bit more about the stuff that matters to me, and to remind myself of facts that I already know: that things often come slowly, and certainly they come better with relaxation, and are much deeper and richer and more certain for that slowness and relaxation (tango as well as personal relationships). The middle path is the path to enlightenment.  


Oh, oh, oh: an addition.  At last night's milonga the final song was one I actually knew:  a cover of "It's a Wonderful Life," by Black (actual name:  Colin Vearncombe; dubious distinction: having a nose too big even for me).  This is one of my most-beloved songs in its original version; it's some serious Blood Music, but simultaneously Grace of God music. So for the very first time since the first time I danced tango, I danced tango to a song I knew, and could understand the lyrics of.  And I got it!  I was relaxed, and I could feel myself simply melting into the lovely known music, and into my partner.  And the cover is fantastic.  Herewith, both versions.  You may choose between the original and the Mathilde Santing cover, or you may (as I do) believe that each is a chip of Just Right in its own way.

And, of course, a joke.  It's not the octopus joke, though (otherwise what would you have to look forward to?).

There's an old woman in a wheelchair sitting by the side of the road, and as people walk by she calls out, "Please help me!  I've never been fucked!  I'm so sad; I've never been fucked!"  She wails this over and over again, but as the people pass they just ignore her.  At long last, when she calls out, "Oh, God, I've never been fucked!"  a gorgeous man is walking by.  He runs over to her and sweeps her up in his manly arms.  He kicks the wheelchair across the road in one swift move and throws her down on the grass in front of him.  Standing above her, he looks down and says, "Now you're fucked."

The lead singer of The Cure told that joke.

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