It’s not been an easy couple of weeks for those of us suffering from post-election blues. My way of dealing with the stress was to declare a moratorium on all media except for reading the Sunday New York Times. If have performed this 3-4 hour weekly ritual since my teens, and it always nurtures me. If I can read the paper outside while listening to live music, that’s close to Nirvana for me. Even in the most discouraging times, this literate compilation of news and arts lightens my mood, and sometimes I’m even sometimes moved to dance.
Last Sunday, Wickenburg, Arizona celebrated its annual Bluegrass Festival. It’s a wonderful gathering of traditional American folk music replete with fiddle and guitar contests. My wife and I set up our folding chairs in the shade of the rodeo grounds stands, stretched out and read The Times; until the foot tapping music became impossible to ignore and Elaine and I got up and danced. We have been dancing together for almost 60 years, and although we didn’t scorch the dance floor like we used to. My balance is a little shakier and my feet sometimes stumble, it really doesn’t matter because as long as you can still hear the music and dance, you can heal your soul.
I learned that a long time ago from an old Pueblo Indian medicine man, when I worked at the Santa Fe Indian Hospital in 1965. Santiago, had been admitted in acute congestive heart failure, and after introducing myself as his doctor, he asked me where I learned how to heal. I thought he meant where did I get my training so I recited this litany of academic achievement. When I was finished he asked me if I knew how to dance. I didn’t quite get the connection and asked him incredulously “do I know how to dance?”. He said yes, you have to be able to dance if you want to be able to heal. I had no idea what he was talking about but humoring him I shook my head and told him I knew how to dance. Santiago, motioned to me, and I proceeded to do a little two-step at the bedside. I asked him if he danced, and he got out of bed to show me his steps. When I asked him if he would teach me how to dance that way, and he said “ I can teach you my steps, but you have to be able to hear your own music”. That was the beginning of an education about health and healing that I never learned in medical school
In these stressful and divisive times do not despair, let’s dance with others who hear the music; and tell the story of what makes America great… the pursuit of a just society.
Happy Thanksgiving to you all Relatives…dance to the music and let us heal.
P.S. Remember the CTHF ( clowntownhealingfest.com )