Spring break begins tomorrow and my children’s school celebrates this with Arts Day. Performers in a variety of genres are donating their time and talent to give our children a taste of what is possible. Each performance is an expression of self, each has the potential to change a child’s life. Every artist makes a choice, to keep their message inside or to put it out there.
During the first performance, the children were getting a little restless. The music told them to move, assembly protocol told them to sit. So they sat. They wiggled. They watched and waited. Until one little boy, one brave little kindergartener could wait no more. He stood up and danced. He didn’t care who was watching. He just put it out there. Soon, others followed. Before the end of the song, the entire school was up dancing. That little boy changed the momentum for the morning. That little boy was my son.
I watched and marveled at his bravery. So care-free, unencumbered by expectations, he stepped out of line and they followed. That kind of freedom was something I did not know at his age and something I am learning still in my forties. It is that same freedom that hastens my grey hair and tests my limits every day. But I have to remember, there are two sides to every quality.
It had me thinking about our choices. about when we choose to put ourselves out there and when we don’t. About risks we take, chances to be seen, freedom. I thought about all of the self-imposed obstacles, the fear of rejection, the fear of flying.
I received an email reminding me that tomorrow is Deed Day at Gundlach Bundschu, a winery in Sonoma. It was the day they bought the property 158 years ago. They held a poetry contest to honor their grandfather’s love of the written word. The task was to write a poem, related to wine, one word for every year. If you’ve been reading for a while, you know the story.
I thought about where I was six years ago when I decided to put myself out there for the first time, to enter the contest. About how I did it again, and again, baby steps in sharing my words, thoughts, ideas. They were small steps, the audience relatively safe, but they were huge bounds in my battle with fear. Fear of judgment, fear of rejection, fear of failure.
I thought about my tendency to stay seated, follow the rules, meet expectations. What if I hadn’t ever entered that? What if I had just remained seated? What would I have missed? What HAVE I missed? Today, watching him dance, I saw joy. I saw honesty. I saw acceptance and confidence. He is teaching me: to share, to be, to lead, to fly. To take the risk and put it out there. To dance without regret.
Today, I toast the Bundschu family, for persevering over generations and for the impetus to write. I toast all the families who pour themselves into their work so we can pour another glass. I toast the artists who pour out a portion in poetry in every genre. I toast those who overcome fear and those who step outside of formation and dance.