Dancing Dreams

There is a little girl in my neighborhood I often see when I walk past her house. I would guess her to be eight years old, but tall for her age. She is very pretty with long blonde hair that falls in ringlets to her waist. She is very energetic and I usually witness her skipping and jumping around the front yard, waving and flapping her hands as she goes. She always looks to be happily immersed in her own universe.

I recognize this behavior. As a child, I did it myself. As I got older, I did get the message that it was strange behavior, so I sought out more private locations to dance my daydreams. In winter, I took advantage of the fact that all the houses we lived in lacked central heating, so there was always a cold room I could have to myself. My grandparents’ house had a covered veranda I could enjoy on rainy days while everyone else was in the living room on the other side of the house. At night, I would often keep the light off for additional privacy.

But I sometimes forgot myself. One evening I could not contain myself and skipped back and forth in the kitchen which had a large, wide window. Our neighbor saw me and shook his head and rolled his eyes. It was very embarrassing as I was fifteen years old at the time.

When I was little, my dancing dreams were often of riding horses. But as I got older they were about hanging out with imaginary friends, some of whom were loosely based on people I knew and worshipped from a distance. As an adult, my dancing dreams became more about trying to imagine myself accomplishing something — and I dialed down the energy, pacing instead of skipping.

I still pace on a daily basis. And I actually find it productive sometimes. Yesterday, I was struggling with a coding project and each time I got stuck I got up from my chair and paced around until my brain clicked into gear (working at home allows me do this whenever I want.) When I am depressed, I can sometimes “talk myself back to happiness” by pacing and having out-loud conversations with imaginary people.

Every now and then, I succumb to dancing dreams — usually after I have had several glasses of wine. I grab my iPod Touch, put in the earbuds, and find tunes on YouTube to take me someplace else. I turn out the lights so that I do not cast incriminating shadows onto the window blinds. And the next morning I feel silly.

I always say hello to the little girl. Sooner or later, someone will make fun of her and she will have to be more mindful of where she enjoys her dancing dreams. I suspect I will not be seeing her much longer.

In praise of a habit

As I was walking home today, a monk passed me heading in the other direction. I have been seeing this monk for years in one neighborhood or another. And I am always inspired by his uniform — a knee-length habit.

In summer, he sports bare legs and feet in sandals — and I think I have even seen him wearing flip-flops! In winter, he wears leggings and hiking boots and warm layers under the habit. In rainy weather, he carries an umbrella. I have never seen him in rainy weather when it is too windy for an umbrella. Perhaps he has a rain poncho. Or perhaps he just stays indoors.

I hate having to think about what to wear — so I always have some kind of uniform that can be adapted to changes in season. In winter, I wear warm trousers (such as corduroy) with long-sleeved high-neck shirt made from a close-weave fabric and a vest (sleeveless jacket.) The summer version is light-weight cotton trousers with t-shirt and sleeveless shirt. Summer shoes are Teva sandals. Winter shoes are Sorel boots. In between, I wear Skechers sneakers. And I can wear smarter-looking shoes when necessary.

What is nice about my uniform is that it is possible to have a version that is smart enough for business casual — but is every bit as comfortable as the ensemble I wear on the weekend. The shoes may be different — but they can still be comfortable. And with the vest, I always have pockets.

In this uniform, I never feel overdressed or underdressed. And I always feel that my clothes are appropriate for my age (fifty-eight) while still being fun and easy to wear. I suspect I will be wearing a version of this uniform for the rest of my life.

It is one less thing to have to worry over.