Why copy others when you know what’s right to do? The Authors Collection.
February 15, 2015
A FAMOUS CHOREOGRAPHER had come to UCLA to mount one of her dances for the annual spring concert at Royce Hall. It was something we looked forward to; the chance for us student dancers to work with professionals.
Of course that meant we had to audition. As in most auditions, the choreographer demonstrated a dance phrase, and then we had to dance it back for her.
As I watched her I thought, “That’s a strange way to do that, but hey, if that’s her style, I’ll go with it.” So I did. I didn’t fully dance the movement because the choreographer didn’t. In fact she appeared clumsy to me, so I was clumsy.
I didn’t make the cut. Afterward one of my dance friends asked me why I danced that way, didn’t I feel well. “No, that wasn’t it.” I said, “I was copying her.”
Her laughter told me what I should have known. Just because she didn’t dance it well, didn’t mean we weren’t supposed to.
This long ago memory came back to me recently when I found myself doing it again. Not in an audition, but in a class. I was following the teacher instead of doing what I knew how to do. Instead of pushing myself to my own limits, I was staying within hers.
It made me stop and wonder if I was doing that in life. Was I following what others were doing, instead of following what I know.
There is so much information these days about everything. Everyone has an opinion about how things work. But, what if we have outgrown some of those ideas. Should we still be following others who haven’t yet learned what we have learned?
Since everyone is on their own path with their own timing, it is not about making others wrong. It is about knowing our own path, and our own timing.
Too many people don’t fully live life. They just get by. Some people feel that it is okay to fake their way through life, or not care about others, or do things just for money and not for the good of all.
Does that mean we are supposed to follow them?
Of course not. We have to follow our highest understanding of the right thing to do, and the right way to do it. As we grow in wisdom, our understanding should also grow. Which means that what was right for us last week, may not be the best idea for us this week.
Looking back, I realize what was important about that audition. Perhaps even if I would have done my best, I still would not have been chosen. But, I would have known I did my best.
Better was the time I wasn’t picked for a dance because the choreographer said my unique style didn’t fit the dance he was designing.
And that’s what I am thinking life should be about. Always do our best, even if it means not following someone else’s way of doing it. Stick with our unique expression of ourselves, even if it means that we won’t always fit in.
It’s wonderful that there are so many choices about how to live life, and do things we want to do, but not all of them are for each of us. We have to keep an open heart and mind, while maintaining a clear focus on the life choices that suit us best.
And if we make a wrong choice, or we discover that we have learned what we needed to learn, instead of hanging out with guilt, remorse, or wishing, we can easily move to the next choice.
I have always loved Wayne Gretzky’s quote, “You miss one hundred percent of the shots you don’t take.” It’s a wonderful quote at face value.
But it is even more wonderful when we take into account the thousands of hours he spent practicing so that each shot has the best possible chance of succeeding. Hours spent finding the way to do it best in his own unique style.
He also said, “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.”
Both feel like a wonderful life lesson to me!
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