Now Be the Dance
by Mary Ellen Gambutti
I am a blanket pulled noiselessly through the water’s warm surface. In a stream, with firm hands she guides me in Watsu dance. On my back I’m moved in slow motion to the left, then right. My eyes are closed, I lose direction. No obstacle, no hesitation, no effort. No need to try.
"Trust is the key," I hear my therapist say as I float freely, silver tresses streaming in silent water. She pivots and turns, and in her hands I feel an easy stretch. “Now be the dance,” she says. I do nothing to resist her gentle strength. In quiet, I feel a stirring. Time, determination, work have healed my injured brain. I’ve fought against the evil of my flaccid side. Now, in this moment, I allow myself peace, an end to work. In this pool I feel joy in suspension of time and place. No need to try.
Happiness is transitory contentment, a state of sensory pleasure. But, we may pass through that gate into a more glorious garden. J.K. Rowling’s character, Albus Dumbledore, said, “Happiness can be found even in the darkest times if one only remembers to turn on the light.” The light that came on for me saved my life: the understanding that all is lost if we allow it to slip away.
The stroke threatened to take me away from myself, from who I am, but it did not succeed. It seems a simple thing now: my toes, then my foot moved. In my hospital bed, that light one early morning shone through the pain and sadness. I feared I’d never walk again.
Kahlil Gibran writes in “The Prophet” emptiness is first needed to live fully. Both sorrow and joy are necessary to live a balanced life. My emptiness turned to joy.
We just need to remember to switch on the light. It is our conduit to joy. Call it inspiration, happiness, contentment, engagement in art, creative flow, song and rhythm, natural beauty, the meaningful written word. The light is a channel, the way to a state of mind that is joy. It is beyond time and place. It is a religious experience, salvation or enlightenment. Joy is ecstasy; it is bliss. Joy is wholeness in being, the full measure of self, and oneness. Beyond our physical woes, lies a place where we may rest body and mind in well-deserved contentment. Joy is the calm blessing that can bring tears.
Ten years since my stroke, I have returned to self-expression. After the first year, reading and verbal comprehension improved, and my speech regained fluidity. I could walk with assistance, lift my right arm. It was a greater task than I’d ever known. This lengthy rehabilitation has been more difficult than my fifteen years’ work as a landscape gardener, work to which I would never return. Instead I returned to myself, but wiser and freer. When there is no need to try, then we may feel joy. We can be the dance.
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About Watsu: https://www.watsu.com/
“Now Be the Dance” was first published by The Remembered Arts Journal (Jan. 20, 2018).
Mary Ellen's work is published or forthcoming in Gravel Magazine, Wildflower Muse, Remembered Arts Journal, Vignette Review, Modern Creative Life, Thousand and One Stories, Halcyon Days, NatureWriting, PostCard Shorts, Memoir Magazine, Haibun Today, CarpeArte, Borrowed Solace, Winter Street Writers, Amethyst Review, StoryLand, mac(ro)mic, SoftCartel, Drabble, FewerThan500, BellaMused and Contemporary Haibun Online. Her book is Stroke Story, My Journey There and Back. She and her husband reside in Sarasota, FL.