I used to play a lot of tennis. I was very keen to win. I tried hard. I ran around a lot. Sometimes it worked out well, sometimes it didn’t!
You may be thinking, ‘winners and losers, isn’t that the name of the game, all part of the fun?’ To me that is not the best way to look at it. When I beat my opponent I was thrilled, brandishing a grin on my face like splendid trophy, but my opponent would be quiet while I relished the moment. When I was the loser it would be the other way around. I would be quiet, deflated, dismayed, while my opponent did the revelling.
To me this is not great. How much better when all can achieve equanimity. So I tried to change things around. I looked on it as a form of therapy. This is how sports psychology works. The trick is to focus on performance, consistency and technique. All participants can then delight equally in their own personal level of attainment, adopting a more positive attitude towards one another.
Despite my best efforts, I never attained this enlightened state of mind. Perhaps this is one reason why, after several years of failing to achieve any satisfactory level of equanimity on the tennis court, I turned to the world of dance!
In dance it is easier to remember that the secret is to focus on the moment, the music, and the technique, and to remember that the experience of pleasure is a shared experience. “How good am I?” is not a helpful question. Just as in tennis, one can achieve better results by not worrying too much about it. There is ‘better’ and ‘not so good’, of course, but it is not something to get hung up over.
Dance is a conversation to music. It may be an old adage, but there is a great deal of truth in it. One of the joys of social dancing is that there are no winners or losers, and that each conversation is unique.
On the other hand, not every dance moment will be a celebration of joy. There is certainly a level of skill to aspire to. However, if you are tempted to ask ‘how good am I?’ on the dance floor, my advice is ‘don’t do it’! The less you ask the better you will be!
Maybe the lesson is even broader than this. Sometimes in life it is better to just let things flow and see how it all pans out. Sometimes it is good to remember, as you dance your way through life, that the most important thing is to listen to the music.