I wanted to title this blog “Something Good Always Comes From Something Bad” but with the sheer amount of bad over the past year, it felt trite. With the pandemic, protests against and protections entrenched for police brutality, and a genuinely frightening proliferation of willful, blissful ignorance, the past year has been an avalanche of shit. Surely not enough good has come from all that bad to strike an effective balance.
I’m not going to argue it has.
But as I thought about this theme that I jotted down some months ago, I started thinking about taking a break at my building’s pool. And then I started thinking about what I like to do in the pool these days: Dance.
The “dance like no one is watching” line is cliched into tatters from Millennial’s Tumblr pages but, like all cliches, there’s an element of truth in it. Unencumbered by leering eyes and rank judgements, you can unequivocally be yourself. I wish I could believe most of us grow out of caring what other people think, but the sheer discomfort most adults have about dancing is proof positive that we don’t. I’m independent, but like everyone in this business, I’m conscious of my reputation and image. In the pool, however, I could give a shit.
At some point during this pandemic (time isn’t real anymore), I began going to the pool. Nobody’s ever there. So at some point, I began playing music. And then, naturally, I got into the music. And then, naturally, I got carried away by the music. Now, I go to the pool every day and dance because it’s something I can do to genuinely feel good without being ashamed.
This pandemic has created an odd phenomenon where nobody wants to see anyone else in a good mood. There’s so little to be happy about in the world, most of us feel afraid or ashamed to express joy. Masks are essential not just for stunting the spread of COVID, but for stunting the spread of joy. Who wants to have a big smile on their face when they run into someone who just lost a family member to COVID? It’s a social coping mechanism — a compassionate one, honestly — to suppress joy in times of sorrow. But when the dark times are this extended, you just can’t wallow in it anymore. You have to find a way to let the joy out. Everyone these days is as aware of people in good moods as they are of those in bad moods. That’s not great.
So I dance in the pool. And because it’s a pool, I levitate. I feel like Fred Astaire defying gravity, and even if I look ridiculous, I feel amazing. Nobody sees me, so nobody’s offended.
While I do believe that something good always comes from something bad, sometimes it’s hard to realize. You have to work to find that silver lining. It may not be right in front of your nose and you may have to break your regular boundaries to find it. But it’s there. We’ve all danced in a pool this year so ask yourself what it looks like.
2020 was a lost year in some terms, but I also got into shape, I read more, and I got back into music enough that I actually feel confident playing publicly. Despite the rough, there is good in the world and in your life. It may just require a little extra digging to find, and you have to be willing to do a little extra to get there. It may not be a literal pool, it may not be literal dancing, but there has been joy this past year — and it’s nothing to be ashamed of. In dark times, it’s imperative to find the positive rays of hope that have sustained you and will continue to do so. Check in with yourself. Give yourself time to do the things that make you feel good. To quote Stephen King, “Home is where you dance with others, and dancing is life.”