The Writer’s Dance

(The Maritime Bhangra Dance Group – click the image to open in new window)

I love this. The above dance performance was making the rounds on social media about a month or so ago. If you haven’t seen it already, please watch. Or, if you have, watch it again. It’s fun.

There was another video clip about dancing that came across my Facebook feed a couple of weeks ago, about a different kind of dance. It was something I really needed to hear. I wanted to share it then, but like many others, the election was weighing on me, and clarity of thought was in short supply. Perhaps now is an OK time.

This video, by Swedish videographer David Lindberg, gives visual context to the words of Alan Watts (d. 1973). I had only heard of Alan Watts, that is to say I knew the name. I recalled that he was a new age philosopher type in the 1960s.

(Alan Watts & David Lindberg – Why Your Life Is Not A Journey)

Lately, I’ve been seeing the world in very linear terms. I know that that can be a prison, stealing joy and creating bitterness and regret. I wrote about this once in another blog a started years ago—about the idea of “having arrived”—of striving to reach that elusive destination of “having it all together.”

With respect to writing, sometimes I feel (as I’m sure other writers do) an impatient rush to get to the end, to complete the final draft be done with it. It’s definitely a temptation. But what’s more important is the dance—the words you use and the story you’re trying to tell. The enjoyment of the creative process.

I recently learned that two most famous American writers, Ernest Hemingway and Tennessee Williams, were both as much enamored with the dance than they were the end product, perhaps even more so. They had no problem years later going back and revising their earlier works. Hemingway, decades after writing them, rewrote the memoirs of his life in Paris in the 1920s. Williams would change lines and even scenes in plays when they were in mid-production. So it’s OK to indulge in the thousand visions and revisions that T.S. Eliot spoke of. It’s not all about getting to the end.

Note to self: Enjoy the dance.

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