There I sit. In a large auditorium. The lights are dim and a soft instrumental version of “My Heart Will Go On” begins.
I am drawn into the performance on the stage.
And honestly, there was nothing spectacular about it. And yet it was the most moving piece of the night. Of fifty-two dance performances, this one stood out. It made my heart squeeze and contract. A lump filled my throat, and I willed tears to stay inside my eyes.
When most think of a ballerina we are pulled into the image of a waify, slender, tall-yet-petite, svelte girl. Legs are long. Arms and fingers are slight and graceful. They are creatures of discipline and tone. The effortless movements they make took years to perfect.
They fly up on toes and twirl and jump up and down on them—as if we were made to walk on these phalanges—that for the rest of us only find corners of furniture to jam into that leave us limping.
They are the result of years of hard work. And their dance and body shape embody all that is a ballerina. Stunning and beautiful.
But as I watched the ballerina on stage, she was nothing like this image.
She was short and stout. Her beautiful teal leotard held in her body like a girdle. A mid-length tulle skirt graced her wide muscular calves. And her shoes…oh the shoes! Bright red pointe shoes with ribbons that wrapped her thick ankles.
And she danced…
PERMISSION TO SHINE
In this dance academy there is a guarantee: be part of the academy for four years, practicing no less than three disciplines per year, and then you are allowed to have a solo performance during your senior year.
The chubby butterfly followed the rules. She was given permission to shine. And I admired her. Deeply.
She wasn’t perfect, her shoes slipped, I could detect the quiver of nerves in her demeanor. But she did it. She took the stage and just like a butterfly with a little extra weight to its body, she flew. She flew when others might look, shake their heads, and say she shouldn’t. She flew even though she didn’t fit the mold. She flew even though I could see how scared and nervous she was. She flew up on her toes, the ones in the beautiful bright red shoes.
And she danced…
And I tried to not fall apart in tears as her performance overwhelmed me to my core.
SHE DID IT ANYWAYS
In life we often are faced with made-up rules that hold us back. Body images and self-doubt that paralyze. Someone is always better. They got a better lot in life, talent, beauty, and education. And the stereotypes, that should never exist in the first place, keep us from moving forward.
I know of a woman who preaches salvation and grace to masses. She used to be a street-walker.
I know of a man who wrote symphonies that fill ears with delight. But he was deaf.
And this list could and would go on and on. Because somewhere along the way those scared and frightened and chubby butterflies gulped down some courage. And they said, “I don’t care what they say. I can. And I will.”
Thank goodness for the bravest chubby butterflies that prove to me—and you—that we can fly too.
©2009-2012 Sherry Meneley All Rights Reserved soiledwings.com sherrymeneley.com createheart.com soiled wings create•heART create heart creativity life coach coaching art journal journaling