"I felt that night, on the stage, incredibly close to everything in the universe, but also extremely alone. I wondered, for the first time in my life, if life was worth all the work it took to live. What exactly made it worth it? What's so horrible about being dead forever, and not feeling anything, and not even dreaming? What's so great about feeling and dreaming?"
Years ago, when I was dancing 5 nights a week and teaching the same, I would get this very specific feeling. Nothing has yet to compare to it. It is specific and binding. It magnified on stage. And I am not kidding myself, I know I was a much better teacher than I was dancer. I wasn't technically perfect. But I felt it. I think my sheer drive and passion covered the imperfections. When I was dancing, I was consumed. It moved my bones and screamed through my veins. Any dancer knows this feeling. It is an internal explosion.
One of the last preformances I did was also the last time my grandfather saw me dance. I can still feel tinges of this moment. Bowing, my eyes found him in the crowed immediately. I could see it on his face as he stood and clapped for me, smiling. I remember suddenly crying as I walked of the stage, collapsing into the curtains. As soon as the lights fell, I felt like I had been gutted. My friend Sarah came rushing up to me, "What is going on? Are you okay?" I told her that I knew this would be the last time Papaw would see me dance. There was a breaking inside. He was at the beginning of the end, and it was.
Even though I don't dance professionally anymore and haven't taught even basic ballet in almost 6 years, it stays with me. Dance gave me something that I will hold with me the rest of my life. A lifting.