Swing club started up again Monday night. It’s always interesting teaching again after taking a break for a while. We had a big crowd – I have no idea exactly how many, but somewhere around 70-80 maybe? – and, man, they could not stop talking! Bounce tried the Peter “Lindy God” Strom “1-2-3-shush!” technique, but alas, that doesn’t work so well for mere mortals. I think we’re going to have to figure something else out.
This fall makes six years that I’ve been swing dancing, and a bit over four that I’ve been teaching. It seems like a lifetime ago that I walked into the community center at Wegerzyn and took my first lesson. I fell in love so hard and fast with swing dancing – my second lesson was the very next day, and then I went dancing again only two days later. At the same time, it’s hard to remember a time when I wasn’t a swing dancer, when I didn’t know what to do with my body on a dance floor. I know that I’ve worked hard to become the dancer I am today. There are large parts of dancing that did not come easily to me. But dancing always seemed so right for me, the kind of thing that made it worth conquering my fears and insecurities in order to be able to have the dances I knew were waiting for me.
I’m still not done as a dancer. I feel like I’ve reached a plateau. Some of the things that are holding me back from reaching the next level are physical (asthma, weight, etc.), some are psychological (see also: dipping issues), and some are a simple matter of logistics. I can’t afford to travel to out of town events where I could get the instruction I would need, and the practice dancing with other dancers on my level. I can’t afford the gas to travel to dances at nearby cities. Sometimes it’s a struggle just to afford dancing here in town. Maybe the slightly improved job situation will help with that, but we’ll have to see. Still, there’s a lot that I can do to improve my own dancing even without taking the classes and workshops. I feel like I am a much more relaxed and musical dancer now than I was two years ago, and I achieved that while barely travelling anywhere. So maybe there’s hope for me yet.
In other news, today I finally made the phone call to start the process of becoming a Vigil Volunteer for our local Hospice. This is a relatively new volunteering opportunity, in which you come in to sit with people who are nearing death and stay with them until the end. Not everyone who comes to Hospice has family who can be with them, or sometimes that family cannot handle being there at such an intense time. So I would be a sort of volunteer on call for when they needed me.
I heard about this opportunity a while back from The Girl Next Door, and I immediately thought that it was something I could do. I’ve kept vigil at a deathbed twice in my life, once for my grandmother and once for my brother. It’s important for someone to be there, to witness the event that is happening. Plus, death doesn’t freak me out like it does some people. Everyone’s going to die sometime. From a certain perspective, death is what gives meaning to life. Just like no woman should have to give birth alone, no one should have to die alone. So hopefully once I finish my training, I can help keep a few people company in the last moments of their life.
I think this volunteering opportunity might be something big for me. It feels like a big step towards something big and unknown. Coming into contact with death changes people. It’s that confrontation with something so much bigger than we are, something so inexorable. I don’t know how it’s going to change me, but I think I’m, not ready, but willing for the change.