Monday, June 4, 2007

Simcha Blisters

The very shoes that gave me simcha blisters

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:

Related posts:

8 comments, so far. Add yours now!

Post a Comment

Anonymous said...

Nice or not, I am a lurker

Not just online, even in life (that's probably why I enjoy being on the net so much...interaction without too much involvement)

But this blog entry, made me step out. You've written it as only one who has tried to keep in step at those simchas can understand.

And you've made a good point besides.

Great job~

Juggling Frogs said...

Inca, I am honored that you had this reaction to this post. May all your delurking give you courage and joy. Thank you.

By the way, this was just posted at the Happiness Project:
A true secret to happiness: wearing running shoes all day

It seemed related in a mirror-image sort of way.

All the best,

Sarah Likes Green said...

nice post!
i have suffered from simcha blisters (as well as various other injuries like sprained ankle, foot punctured by someone else's stilleto, back pain recurring from too much jumping about etc) but i try not to let it bother me too much because it's all for the good and happiness of the people having the simcha. it's also not as much fun standing on the sidelines!
so i don't mind if i have sore feet and can't walk or i need to go to the chiropractor after the event because I know that it was all worthwhile.

Batya said...

Great post.
I'm one of those very middle-aged, but no where ancient, simcha dancers who are like Pavlov's dogs, when it comes to the music.
I'm careful to wear comfortable shoes.
Last year I had trouble with my heel and was devestated when I couldn't dance at a wedding.

crunchygranolamom said...

I'm right there with you on the out-of-step-but-smiling!

And, gee, thanks for the dictionary link. I always thought it was spelled "fuggedaboutit".

Ayelet said...

(gasping and wiping tears from my eyes) That description had me laughing so hard! Thanks for the simcha boost :)

Anonymous said...

I LOVE this!! I am going to use the phrase -- and give due credit.

Miriam said...

great blog and great dvar torahs! thanks!

If you liked this article, congratulations! You have great taste. Please brew yourself a cup of coffee.
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