One of the things a good southern mama teaches her daughter is to always look out for others. Always ask about everybody else's mama at the end of every conversation, take casseroles to folks in the event of birth, death, and illness, and go to great ends to never inconvenience another person just for little ol' you. In addition, my mama always advised that I should nevah, nevah, nevah make a spectacle of myself.
Which is why I didn't quite know what to do on Saturday night at a lightly attended gala to cap off the Author!Author! Book Festival in Shreveport, Louisiana. My husband and I arrived at 8:15p.m. to join a sparse crowd. Quite discomforted, I realized I would have no chance of blending into a throng of bodies. We walked down the stairs onto the expansive auditorium floor, and though not a soul flinched, my insecurity blinded me like a hot spotlight.
We stayed simply because I feared we might hurt the organizers' feelings if we departed so soon after arriving. Around 10p.m. I looked around to discover that somehow my beloved and I had missed the mass exodus of ALL the other attendees besides ourselves. It was now the two of us, the band, and a handful of hosts and hostesses. We were the ONLY guests still in residence.
My spouse turned to me and said, "We should go. There's no one here but us and I bet these folks would like to go home." The rational, do-what-your-mother-would-have-you-do, don't-wear-out-your-welcome side of me agreed. Besides, I didn't want the coordinators to think I was a loser who doesn't get out much. And so we walked toward our table to gather our things.
Suddenly, on impulse, I turned to my beau (or beaux, as we were in Louisiana) and said, "No. I'm not going. We came a long way for this. All the way from the GA-SC border to the LA-TX border, and I'm going out on that dance floor. Look around. Someone is throwing a private party just for us in this magnificent building (The Municipal Auditorium - Home of the Louisiana Hayride, where Elvis got his start) and I'm gonna soak up every last second of it."
I am married to a great and patient man. He stared at me like he did not recognize the woman in that little black dress and the pink, feathery boa. But he nodded in compliance.
And I danced the rest of the night, alone on the vast wood floor but entirely fulfilled. And I left there determined to keep on dancing, because that's what fearless living is all about; grabbing those moments of discomfort, obligation, uncertainty, fear, and sucking them like sweet watermelon from the rind. God loves me and he's giving me these moments as part of my total allotment in life. But he leaves it up to me to decide how to use them.
I plan to dance like the band is playing just for me. I hope you will, too.
TODAY'S ASSIGNMENT: Turn on your stereo, radio, i-pod to your favorite music and dance in the living room, across your office floor, in the dressing room at Macy's, wherever you find yourself. Let loose and dance. The band is playing just for you. Hear the music? This is your life to live fearlessly.