Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The Dance Goes On

I grew up in a denomination that while it has no official stance on it, let’s just say that dancing is discouraged. An old joke says that we don’t have sex standing up because it could lead to dancing but if there’s one exercise I appreciate infinitely more than running or spartaning or cycling, it’s dancing. It’s something that I’ve definitely passed on to Kiana because while we have a relatively small house we have a big empty space in the living room. A couple of weeks ago she said… well some people would have a dining room table here but I am glad we don’t because it leaves more room to dance.

And it was fun to think that way because after the 5k Kiana was hula hooping and dancing. That’s easier to do after a 5k than a marathon and I felt bad for many of those doing longer distances because the weather was rough and for the vast majority of them, they fell short of their hopes/expectations. I saw some of them sobbing at the finish, some crying shortly after, some frustrated and disappointed a few hours later. I saw a few of them crying happy to have qualified for Boston or to have gotten their fastest one or finished their first one. I’ve been in both the happy and sad situation and imagine will be there again and like them, some of them declared shortly afterwards, “I’ll never do another marathon again.” But a day or two later there were facebook statuses about them having signed up for Austin next year or another marathon, or an ironman. There are some who were still pretty beat down. Within a few hours, perhaps my favorite moments was to see some of them had, even though they were already dehydrated, drank a margarita or two and they were dancing in post race pictures. Because in the end, at least for me, the marathon, the races are the excuse for the connections, for the healthiness, for the dancing after.

I figured that since I have reminders in my life anyway through medical bills and insurance notices (whatever your thoughts are on Obamacare... I have health insurance for the first time since my COBRA ended so... I am grateful for it. I am paying for it and would have "gladly" paid for it before but in Texas, the law used to allow them to not have to insure anyone until they had been cancer free for 5 years... which right now I may never get to do). Rather than be reminded of just my own cancer issues and side effects, I have chosen to connect with others in the cancer community. Because of that choice, I hear of death too often.  And not too long after celebrating a marathon finish with them and seeing them and Kiana dance, I received an email from Jimmy Fowkes’s family, someone I had met at my first Livestrong bike ride and seen at all three of the ones I've done. He had passed away from brain cancer the morning of the marathon and of mine and Kiana's 5k. ( Here was a kid who with brain cancer had started at Stanford, received scholarships and each time I saw him seemed always positive. It was a few days ago it seemed like when I last sat across from his family in October where he was ringing the opening go signal for the 100 mile bike ride. The simple truth is that most of my interaction had just ended up being with his parents at most events we were together because I obviously worry about Kiana if brain cancer ever takes me. Still Kiana has her mom and I hope an army of people that would/will be helpful if/when that event comes. But at some level, I admit that the person I worry the most about is my mother because the way I see the universe… we’re supposed to bury our parents not the other way around. I think this is one of just many reasons why we struggle when children and young adults have cancer. While there are those who want/choose to believe that everything happens for a reasons, the simple truth is I can’t think of anything where parents burying their children makes sense… I sent a tribute to Jimmy but while I’m  a guy who blogs and has been in media interviews, I am also a guy whose attended a few too many funerals and memorials in the last few years (oddly enough many of them for people he’s only met in the last few years) and I can tell you there’s no words that I’ve ever come up with that adequately describe the tribute that good folks deserve.

That was all part of an interesting weekend because the statesman article about Kiana’s first 5k ( quoted Steven Curtis Chapman’s Cinderella ( a song that’s been quoted and blogged about here ( David Armstrong, an old friend, gave us
tickets and as Mr. Chapman introduced the song he talked about how he wrote it on a night his girls were being less than behaveful as they went to bed. But he realized then that it was probably best to enjoy the moment than be rushing them to bed because he had things to do. I get Kiana to bed early because she has school and various things but I still keep trying to catch each moment that I can with a bedtime routine that includes a countdown that “blasts off” into the hope she gets good sleep and good dreams. But one of the daughters he wrote that song for would be killed a few years later in a tragic car accident. He spoke about how he didn’t know what to do with that song, whether to stop singing it in light of that but he eventually got back to singing it. But when he did it live Saturday night, he changed the lyrics. Usually it’s “I will dance with Cinderella; I don’t want to miss even one song, cause all too soon, the clock will strike midnight and she’ll be gone” But he closed it out by singing “All too soon the clock will strike midnight but the dance goes on.”

I haven’t been able to stop thinking about that slight shift in lyrics. There are those who like Stephen Curtis Chapman find hope in that they will reunite again in heaven. There are those who think this life is all we get. There are those who think we have cycles or karma. While I attend Christian church regularly, I have no grand knowledge of the universe, no absolute truth has been granted to me. But I do know… that no matter which one of those is true, that I can’t imagine regretting a single dance with anyone I love.

There is another song that often makes race playlists, Caedmon’s call “Dance” ( Dancing’s been referred to many times here because there is a rare opportunity that I pass up the chance to dance.  The song is about an old lady in a nursing home who loves when someone comes in to play music so that she can dance. To quote the lyrics a little more directly

And I wanna dance 
I wanna snap my fingers all night long and dance 
I wanna move around the room just like a madman in a trance 
All night, I wanna dance 
I wanna wrap my arms around your neck and dance 
I wanna listen to the music that's been ringing in my ears 
And one day I’m gonna dance my way right outta here

And to quote the lyrics even more, the guy who runs or maybe dances to and from being George Clooney and a hopeless romantic even likes the line in the song, "I’d marry you if you could dance.” I don’t have a girlfriend but if I ever do, it will be someone I can do all kinds of dancing with. When I hear adults talking about how they aren’t comfortable dancing… I question which one of has the more damaged brain. I hear many adults at various places questioning my exercise habits. However, I think people who question my marathoning are more sane than those who pass up on dancing. Take it from a guy who regularly attends elementary school things, when they have something in assembly that requires running, most of the kids in elementary do it to some level and enjoy it to various levels. When they have something that involves dancing, almost all of them do it and the vast majority of them are dancing with ridiculous smiles on their faces. The older Kiana gets the more I think growing up may be overrated (just kidding) but I am beyond certain that there are some things that nothing is served by growing out of it. And dancing… I don’t think anybody needs to or gains anything by outgrowing it.

I’m part of a group on facebook, the solidarity run group, where you dedicate runs to other people. I’ve been part of other groups where you’re supposed to dedicate a run/workout/moment of silence to someone else. Being part of those is good for all because I believe it’s good for everything  and everyone to think outside of yourself to look for symmetry and syngery. While I am aware there are those who might dance at my grave for different reasons, let me send a message to anyone who reads this and loves me, to anyone who reads this and I love, be aware that whichever one of us gets to the end of life first, if there’s only one thing you do as an acknowledgement, don’t let it be a run, or a ride or words, just dance. Believe me when I say I don't care whether you to dance to remember or dance to forget. Because for me, and for many of the friends I’ve made who have passed, if there’s anything that will help us rest in peace, it’s knowing that the dance will go on.

1 comment:

  1. I find it amazing that you didn't let your issues with cancer hold you down. It's really nice that you are reaching out to the cancer community. Anyway, your post is very touching. I hope it goes mainstream, so more people will hear of it. People who are only familiar with the illness is oblivious of how the real thing actually is. I can only imagine what you and your family are going through. Keep strong! We're here for you. All the best! :)

    Ravi Agarwal @ MEDIQ