We went to a party in celebration of our friends' son's bar mitzvah on Saturday night. I wore shoes. With heels.
When it comes to simcha dancing, I gratefully stay in the outermost circle; the better to concentrate on coordinating the placement of my own feet and avoiding stepping on others'. Inevitably, when I begin to catch on, the band picks up the pace. Then everyone else telegraphically knows to add a twirl...and thwack, I'm out of sync, yet again.
When line dancing begins, fuhgehtaboudit. 87 year old ladies in walkers are able to execute these maneuvers with grace, while I'm off on the side, attempting to crack the dance's code, muttering "left-together-mayim step-right...", Waiters switch their serving-trays to their left hands and give me wide berth. Every time I think I've parsed the line-dance recipe enough to try with the group, all the ladies turn like a gentle breeze blowing a field of tulips, I'm stuck in front of the whole group, a brittle weed.
It's usually at this point that I give up on trying to learn steps, and make my goal: not to injure anyone. But I keep bouncing and smiling...
What I lack in rhythm, I try to make up for in energy and enthusiasm. I may not be in step, but I do try to work up a sweat. I love to dance, lack of ability notwithstanding. I jump around a lot and smile, and hope that I'll be graded for effort and attitude, not ability.
This Saturday night, the room was full of expert dancers: aerobic champions, many of them grandmothers and even a couple of great grandmothers. Not only could they all keep step, they taught the pre-teen girls (and tried to teach me, too) the moves. A friend in her second trimester, wearing heels an inch higher than mine, looked decidedly more graceful than I....
Between dances, I shuffled off to get a glass of water. One person with uncanny empathy, noticed me, and asked why I was limping. I explained I'm used to comfortable shoes, out of practice with party shoes, and I had blisters as a result.
"That must hurt," he said.
"I have Simcha Blisters," I replied.
He said, "Simcha or not, blisters hurt."
"True, but I could have blisters from changing a flat tire. If I have to have blisters, let them all be Simcha Blisters."
"Amen!" he said.
When heartache or catastrophe hits, experiencing pain is not optional. At a joyful event, there is a choice. If I focus on the blisters and not the simcha, I run the risk of missing the good times. If I think about how ridiculous I look when jumping around on the outer circle, I'm likely to stay in my chair and sit out the dance.
Two stories come to mind:
The first is a chassidic story: Rabbi Zusya, began to weep softly as he lay dying. His disciples gathered around his deathbed. "Why do you weep?" they asked. "I am afraid of what God will ask me when I die. I know God will not ask me, 'Why were you not like Abraham?' For who am I next to the man who first recognized the Almighty? And I know God will not ask me 'Why were you not like Moses?' After all, I am not a great prophet or leader. But when God looks upon me and says, 'My child, why were you not Zusya?' What shall I say then?"
The second story is told about Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch, zt'l: He asked his students to take him to visit the Alps. Perplexed, they asked why. He explained he realized that when he would get to heaven, God, in addition to the standard questions: "Have you set aside fixed times for the study of the Torah?""Have you dealt honestly with your fellow man?" etc. would also ask him, "Have you seen my Alps?" He wanted to be able to say, "Yes."
I believe I'm accountable for every time I've felt the blister more than the simcha, and for every dance of joy I pass up for fear of embarrassment. I earned and enjoyed my blisters Saturday night.
I just hope they can edit the video.
Some links to articles about simcha: