Thursday, May 07, 2009

My Golden Dancers

A Day Not Lost, View Thy Hand

By Elita Sohmer Clayman

Many years ago, I was going to the studio for my own dance lesson. It was located in an old building and the elevator was so small, it held only four people at a time. Every time you went in it, you prayed it would make it to the 3rd floor where the studio was located. I was leaving and was on the elevator when it stopped between floors two and three. I saw no phone there to call, which I think is mandatory now, and I started hollering. The owner of the studio heard me and asked, “Where are you?” I hollered in utter panic, "In between the second and third floors." Somehow, he juggled it from above and I made it down to the bottom level...

After that, I hardly ever rode an elevator alone. To this day, I always wait to ride up with someone in there with me. My husband always asks me why, and I tell him that at least I have someone to talk to in an emergency. The other day, I was late for a dentist appointment and could not wait until someone came to ride with me. The door started to close when an elderly lady got on with me. My first question was, "What floor are you going to?" She replied, "Two." I explained that I disliked to ride along since that long ago day, but I would do fine. She said she would ride the extra floor with me. I replied, "God bless you." She laughed and said that she was stuck in an elevator in her own home.

"Your own home has an elevator?" I asked with great surprise.

She said that she was a nun, and the elevator was in the convent. Of course, the convent is her home, so she was telling the truth. I thought it ironic that I said 'God bless you,' not knowing that she was a lady of religion.

Home as they say is where the heart is. Home, to this nun, is the convent; to me, it is my own house. Sometimes, I think that my second home is a dance studio. I feel at home in the studio as if it is my second place of living. I have spent lots of hours in different studios throughout the years, either taking dance lessons or dancing there. I have always felt peaceful and have lost any problems of the day right before opening the door to my dance activity.

Many years ago, a politician here in Maryland ran on a slogan that said, “Your home is your castle.” He lost the election because voters thought he was talking about segregation. He was only trying to distinguish people’s feelings about their residences and that they should pick their politician by his or her helping them to keep their neighborhoods safe and sound, etc.

The first night that we walked into the dance studio for a 10 lesson course was November 2, 1977. We came to take lessons, so we would be experts at an upcoming dinner and dance we were having for our son. Of course, we stayed all these 29 years, and they have all been happy ones except a few times when we argued too much over some dance item. I always say that you have a really good marriage if it can withstand taking ballroom dance lessons with one another. I look forward to my lessons or my Sunday tea dance with great anticipation because it is like a rainbow in the sky. There is so much beauty in dance that envisioning it before it happens is almost as great as it ensues.

There is a saying that goes like this:

Count that day lost
When low descending sun
Views from thy hand
No deed of kindness done

I wrote a rhyming poem to a new ophthalmologist, a female one who had been so kind and caring to me when I was having an exam. I had never had a female eye doctor, and she was so sweet, loving and truly interested in me as a person and not just as a patient.

She wrote me a thank you note for the poem saying how she had shared it with her husband and parents and it gave everyone great joy. She said she could tell that Elita lives by this philosophy of doing kind things. She wrote the saying quoted above to me in her thank you note. I had never heard it but loved the adage and her too instantly.

You can count a day lost if you do not do something worthwhile or if you are too busy working and running your home or whatever you do for that day without at least for a few moments realizing that a day is never considered lost. It is not lost because we are living it at this moment and doing everything that particular day to not only survive obstacles but to be rewarded with happiness in everyday mundane activities. The day is not lost but saved because we are doing our best to have the sun shine on us with warmth and delight.

No doubt that sometime during that day we have done a kindness as the poem states. Even if that means only thanking someone for something they did for us or said to us, saying something pleasant to someone we work with or to our elderly parents, or saying hello to a neighbor that we really do not know much about.

When we ballroom dance, there is much opportunity to count that day preserved and saved. We are taking about one hour to set aside everyday opportunities, and we now engage in this activity to learn something new or to practice what we absorbed previously. We go out on the dance floor and swing and sway with our bodies, no matter what size that body is. We perform for the most important person there and that is ourselves. By doing that, we are showing the world that we are engaging in a daring and beautiful vivacity that makes us feel full of energy. The energy revives us if we are tired from a day on the job or in the home doing work. Our mind is quick to realize that it is being stimulated and electrified and we have the necessary fuel to sparkle.

So to the nun riding the elevator one extra floor (you could say a bit closer to God) and to the female doctor who wrote me the poem: We can all be kind to one another either by verbal expressions or written notes. We as ballroom dancers can encourage anyone we know who may be slightly interested in dancing that they can accomplish it regardless of their age or health.

Ballroom dancing is a soothing outlet for our emotions and many times will even calm our state of mind if we have problems. We become more peaceful and happy when we dance.

The day is not lost; we have lived, worked, possibly danced a bit and rewarded our minds and bodies with the wealth we have amassed by stimulating our thoughts. Shakespeare said, "Thoughts are dreams with effects we try." Try we do when we decide to ballroom dance for the sheer delight it will afford us. We are richer for the experience. The day will be viewed from thy hand with love.

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Anonymous said...

We certainly gain a day when reading your life and dance articles combined. Lawrence Welk on his tv shows used to say "wunnerful, wunnerful." That is what your articles are for us dancers wonderful wonderful.

Sarah and Jim Colombo from Michigan

Anonymous said...

excellent Elita. Thanks

Diana Roy Bufurd California

Anonymous said...

We view a day not lost when we read your delightful and STIMULATING ARTICLES.

Alena and Harry of Connecticut

Anonymous said...

excellent thoughts on life and how ballroom dancing affects your life. I sure know it . It has saved my sanity when things go WRONG. Dancing is RIGHT AND HELPS THE MIND ALONG WITH THE PHYSICAL HAPPENINGS.. THANKS TO Fred Astaire blog for having Mrs. Clayman keep us posted on this.

Ravyne Humphries of USA