After almost a year of ballet I’m still super horrible. I never realized how physically demanding it was, how literally every muscle in your body has to be in control and your mind has to juggle a litany of steps. I didn’t know progress would be so slow and I didn’t know I have bad feet. They seem to turn in when they need to turn out, and my arch isn’t archy enough. I’m taking these classes for fun but with the definite intention of getting better, otherwise I’ll be doing the same steps forever, get massively bored and finally drop out.
Right now I’m taking two classes: Beginner I and Beginner II. The teachers in each must not communicate because the jump from I to II is a little ridiculous. In Beg I I can be put at the front of the class to show other students and in Beg II I’m cowering in the corner, face burning red as my teacher tells me to copy his swooping jump (he’s a new teacher and forgets that you can’t just do what his professional butt can). Anyways, Beg II is a source of huge embarrassment and frustration. I’m not strong enough and my mind just can’t handle the pace. But each week I come back. Why? Because old me would have quit. Old me would have quit after the first huge embarrassing moment. But I don’t want to be like that. I want to persevere and eventually get better. I want to see my body change and do things it could never do before. I want to believe that hard work pays off. I’ll never be a professional, I’m too old for that, but I want to say, “I can dance.”
I mean I want to dance well. I can dance to a beat and it doesn’t look too awful, but I’ve always felt limited. I’ve always wanted to dance what I feel and have it translate beautifully. Ballet is a way to start breaking those limits so I can be Free to Dance. It is also a way to bring some discipline into my life and the embarrassment is to build a backbone.
I believe that in the spiritual life everyone needs to have time for a Beginner 1 class—things that bring you close to God that you are good at and relish in and a Beginner 2 class— things that bring you to your knees but want to achieve to be in closer communion with Him. The important thing is that you keep coming back, otherwise your strength will not be built up and you’ll have to keep coming back to square one. God is a God of new beginnings so he’ll always be ready to start up the journey with you again, but it’s good to remind yourself of the glory that is waiting for you with each new step so the temptation to just skip around square one will lessen. Sometimes I watch ballet documentaries of videos just to pump myself up. I’ll probably only ever achieve a small fraction of their awesomeness, but even that fraction is beautiful. In the same way when I start feeling like I don’t know what the point of all this discipline and faithful living is I read the lives of saints or the Bible and immediately I’m struck with awe. Discipline and Faithful living aren’t just there for kicks. They free us to become who we were meant to be; vessels pouring out Glory in our own unique way, so we can be Free to Love.
God Bless! I promise no more ballet stories for a while!