Having been raised on a farm I had pretty clear ideas about what made a man a man. Being strong was obviously pretty close to the top of the list. The man who could lift the biggest pitchfork of manure and toss the biggest bale of hay the farthest was something that I aspired to as soon as I was big enough to handle a pitchfork and grab a bale of hay. I wanted everyone in my neighborhood to see that I was a man too. Maybe I wasn’t the strongest but I could hold my own and I deserved the title of being called a man.
On the other side of that equation was what did not make you a man. Dance did not make you a man. Running around on a stage in a leotard leaping and pivoting was not something any self respecting man would do. That was for sissies and I wasn’t going to be caught doing any of that.
I thought about this last week as I sat and watched my granddaughter perform in her dance recital. As Louie Armstrong’s voice sounded forth from the sound system my granddaughter gracefully performed her dance to Louie’s song “What a Wonderful World”. Louie’s words took on new meaning for me as I watched my granddaughter move about the stage. I realized in that moment that dance is another way to speak to our hearts. Dance can add to words and music and provide another dimension to help us see and understand that we do indeed live in a wonderful world. As Louie’s words washed over me and I watched my granddaughter’s movements my heart was touched in a new and deeper way about what we need to see that is all around us that can lift our hearts.
If we can continue to learn and grow about what we think it means to be who we are we may all see things we might otherwise miss. I’m not saying that I’m going to put on a leotard and take up dance at my advanced age in case some of you are afraid that I might embarrass myself. But maybe you too can question your assumptions about what makes a man a man or what can we learn about this world that we live in that will help us to see some of its beauty and its wonder.