Dare to Be Ridiculous

by Joshua Paul Greene

When I first met Marcy, I was at a point in my life where I was fairly open to trying new things.  Having recently escaped the clutches of adolescent reluctance to do anything that might contribute to being deemed ‘uncool’ by my friends, I found myself in more than a few situations which would later yield entertaining, if not slightly self-deprecating dinner-table stories.  It was out of this willingness to try most anything – along with the childish desire to impress my new ladyfriend – that I stumbled into a more-intimate-than-I-expected Paneurhythmy dance circle.

For those out of ‘the know’ – which I’m assuming is most people – paneurhythmy (pronounced pan-eur-ith-mee) is “a science of the harmonious, conscious movements, based upon the laws of the Living Nature.” (thanks for that one, Wikipedia)  Basically, one or more people dressed in white dresses (yep, guys too) dance around in a circle to bulgarian violin music by employing a series of movements that have been practiced in that specific order for some respect-garnering number of years.  Needless to say it must have been quite the sight to see; watching me, in all my foolishness and bumbling good intention attempt to 1, remember the steps, 2, correctly perform said steps and 3, successfully remain upright while walking around in circles for hours on end – something which clearly proved to be quite a dizzying accomplishment.

The way I came to not only experience but participate in this rather preposterous display of song and dance was less by way of Marcy and more by way of her fun-loving and free-spirited mother, Sandra.  We’ve all been in that situation where you realize that a really great way to win a lady’s admiration is to also win the admiration of her mother – assuming they still like each other.  So in my attempt to appeal to Sandra’s new-age sensibilities, I happily – and maybe a bit too hastily –  consented when asked if I would be interested in joining her for some crack-of-dawn dance shenanigans.  She may have put it more eloquently…  then again, maybe not – she was a bit loony.

When I arrived home that night, eager to somehow come by several hours of sleep before heading back at first light for what I would later come to recognize as one of the more ridiculous things I’ve ever done, I had the fantastic idea to look up some information on the dance.  In hindsight, I shouldn’t have done that.  As I scrolled through webpages of pictures, videos and information about the dance and the people who do it, I came to realize that I had agreed to something far beyond silly, bordering on absurd.

The visual stimuli flashing before my eyes on my 13″ laptop screen seemed to physically widen my eyeballs and increase the pull of gravity thereby drawing my jaw closer and closer to the ground.  As I watched and read about the people dressed in all white, dancing in some ridiculous formation on the top of a mountain, I couldn’t help but feel like I’d willingly agreed to join some perpetually-twirling cult of Jesus-loving smilers.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course.  Stunned and strangely a bit nerve-wracked I crawled in to bed and semi-successfully attempted to to pacify my anxiety and fall into restful slumber.

At 5:45 am my alarm clock went off in it’s typical rage-inducing tone and I shuffled out of bed into the shower.  By 6:02 I was out the door, dressed in all white (unfortunately no dress for me) and headed over to what I was certain would be the end of my non-cult-affiliated life.  At this point in Marcy and my relationship – if you could even call it that – I still had only known her mother for a month or two, and though she didn’t seem particularly culty, I was beginning to question her sanity – not to mention mine for agreeing to this.

As I stepped out of the car, Marcy came bouncing down the driveway to greet me, smiling from ear to ear.  She was a morning person – or could be when she wanted to – and seemed perpetually happy, almost unbelievably so.  Together we strolled to the house where her mother was waiting, just as goofy and excited as ever.  Still relative acquaintances, Sandra and I made small talk for a moment or two before she uttered the ever-common, “Alright, are you guys ready to do this?”  And though I answered with a confident and grinning, “Sure!  As ready as I’ll ever be!” my brain was shaking in nervous anticipation.

As we perambulated to the back of the house, I half expected to see a dozen people in white and red robes ready to dunk me in a bucket and dub me “One of Them.”  Though that would have made a great story, I was relieved to find that no such sights were to be had that morning; only a non-threatening, foot-worn, circular dirt path.  As Sandra broke out a glorious 90’s Sears boom box, I grabbed a sip of water in preparation for my impending dance-off with spirituality.

For the next hour and a half or so, we twisted, turned and twirled our way through the hundreds of steps required to properly honor and come into communion with the spirits and natural powers-that-be and, much to my surprise, I actually had a lot of fun!  Augmented, I’m sure, by the fact that Marcy joined in for moral support, I found I honestly enjoyed myself!

Throughout the rest of my time spent with Marcy I engaged in a handful of other silly experiences – laughter yoga included – all of which proved more entertaining and enjoyable than I first expected.  And that first objective – to win the admiration of her mother – didn’t fare too poorly either: Sandra loved me by the end of all this.  But in addition to falling into good favor with her maternal figure, I also learned something else – or rather secured a notion I had previously disregarded with hesitant, ego-induced ignorance:  Life is so much more exciting when you do things in which you know you’ll look like a fool.  Letting go of what’s socially common, normal, you-name-it, can be such an exhilarating rush!  To fail to do something absurd on at least a daily basis may be the reason for your misery and discontentedness with life.

Things between Marcy and I ended poorly about a year later in an unfortunate turn of events involving careless manipulation and disregard for anything remotely relating to human emotions, and to my genuine disappointment, the things said between us have since left a bitter taste in my mouth.  But the lessons her mother taught me by way of example – laugh, smile, experiment and explore – have stuck with me ever since.  If you don’t believe me, find your local paneurhythmy dealer and get your dance on.  You won’t regret it.

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