An old college writing instructor of mine once said, “Your goal is to express, not to impress.” He was referring to those writers who unleash—with great regularity—big words in stories.
He went on to explain that whether or not people indeed judge you on the words you use, and whether or not you can command an expanded vocabulary enabling you to debate philosophical precepts or lock academic horns with the clerisy, if you possess an extensive vocabulary, you should use it sparingly.
I read something yesterday. It was from a lecture: “The whole point of the dance is to dance.”
The whole point of the dance is to dance—what an excellent metaphor expressed in such simple words.
No, I haven’t been hitting the sauce. Dance is a metaphor for life. So if the whole point of the dance is to dance, then the entire purpose of living is to live.
I’m on the dance floor, folks.
You should see me. Never underestimate my fancy footwork. And step back because now and then, I wave my arms and toss my head. Lookin’ good, Mr. Kotter! comes to mind!
The whole point of the dance is to dance. I don’t know if I’ll be able to pull off what it is I want to say in this story, but Ima try. No big words will be used.
I’ve been working hard — at planning my life and preparing for my future. Not always, but mostly. And I have been paying a hefty price in doing so. Turns out, I am using valuable time living *in a time* that is not actually here. Let me try again: I am using my time today *to live in a tomorrow*…
Profound, yet plain and obvious and simple. Not.
I am using my time today *to live in a tomorrow*
All my working, living, planning, and saving are being done to guarantee a good time coming tomorrow (and tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow…). This explains all the rock piling anxiety about ‘time.’
“I don’t have a lot of time.” “I can’t waste time.” “My time could be up anytime.”
So what am I doing? Sounds like my planning for the future is devouring my present.
The lecture I listened to described this as a ladder that we all begin to climb starting in kindergarten.
If we are good enough in kindergarten, we can move up to first grade.
And that’s our goal. Get to first grade. If we learn particular skills and master what we need to in first grade, we can climb up to second grade. And so we work at second grade. And then the third grade. And so on. We’re always working to get to the next step because the next step is when it will all get good.
Eventually, we get to high school, and if we learn those courses and get those passing grades, we can move on to college. And in college, we take more courses and pass more classes to move on to graduate school. And from graduate school, if we get those grades, we can move out into the world and get that job that we studied for. And when we get that job and spend 10 or 15 years at it, we can one day be vice president. And once we become vice president, we only have to work another 10 years so that we can retire. We’re always living today for that place in tomorrow. See?
This ladder makes it quite clear that if I’m always living for somewhere that I’m not… If I’m always living to get to the next grade (a.k.a. future) I won’t be there once I get there. I’ll just be living in some other future that hasn’t yet arrived. That’s madness.
So I’ve been on this dance floor – a hard wooden, noisy, dark, and sweaty dance floor. And my heartbeat has been growing steadily. And I’m dancing but the song isn’t ending.
To wrap this up, it’s time to stop rushing around in great panic as if it were necessary to achieve something beyond what my role in life today is. The song has no ending.
P.S. For those that are thinking, “Oh, stop and smell the roses? Is that what this chick is trying to say? Or, live every day like it’s your last?”
Live every day like it’s your first. (Whoa, was that an excellent metaphor expressed in simple words? I think it was.)