Embodied Transformation & Evolution

A Good Day to Dance, A Good Day to Weep

Posted by on Sep 24, 2018 in Featured Writing, Lifeletters & Articles | 3 comments

A Good Day to Dance, A Good Day to Weep

~ The glory and the difficulty of the human incarnation

A dear childhood friend of my daughter’s, a young man I have known and loved for a long time, died a few days ago. It was a sudden death, and tragic. I do not really know what is tragic and what is not; and when people who love him refer to the death as a tragedy, it gives dignity to who he was, and to the depth of our loss.

It came to me, deep in my heart, that there was a way to honour him and his mother, and his father too, who died many years ago, and whose presence I have been feeling strongly. That way was to let myself really grieve, each day, for the loss. I felt that commitment to grieve for this man arise from a place deep inside me, that knows how much love there really is inside each drop of sorrow. Being with this sorrow has happened for me in the morning, when I am practicing. I have found myself sobbing, wailing, talking to God, to the Mother. To that which I do not know and will never know.

The more I allow the waves of grief to move through me, the more grounded and present I feel. I touch places inside me where this sorrow has no story–it’s simply a deep universal pool of loss. And each morning, my dip in the wild ocean of sorrow has a different flavour:

“Do you imagine grief to be garbed in grey and grave clothes? I imagine her to be speckled with bursts of unnameable colours and animal motifs, to be decked in sensuous membranous swirls of wealth, to be tattooed and embroidered with hieroglyphic secrets. I imagine she jumps, curls, unwinds, and throws her limbs here and there, like a figure skater at the bleeding edge of victory. I bet she is dramatic, overwrought and carefree. How else could she, like the blossoming flower, attract the pollinators, the suitors whose gifts offer the next? How else does she catch attention? Just like flowers are wounds of the environment, grief is the force of attraction, the radical opening up of the once closed, the luxurious peeling back of the skin, the indecent proposal to wander away from the known, the awkward grace of instability that touches all things. No, she is not gray and uninteresting. She is the technology of the new…the tenderness of the yet-to-come, the biological signal that the body is open to the wilds beyond its fences. She glows seductively.”
~ Bayo Akomolafe

creative flow--Pat Fleming

I have always been afraid of sorrow—at last something is changing, in my heart and in my body, as I learn to trust her. I’m surprised by the joy that comes now, without any warning. When I dance, I feel it arrive. To make room for both joy and sorrow, this seems to one of our tasks, as we dare to become fully human. To allow the wave to enter us, to meet it, to respect it, and then to make room for the next one. We have not lived like this, in our post modern culture. Perhaps not for a long time. And it’s not too late for us to learn.

If you suddenly and unexpectedly feel joy, don’t hesitate.
Give in to it.
There are plenty of lives and whole towns destroyed or about to be.
We are not wise, and not very often kind.
And much can never be redeemed.
Still, life has some possibility left.
Perhaps this is its way of fighting back,
that sometimes something happens better than all the riches or power in the world.
It could be anything,
but very likely you notice it in the instant when love begins.
Anyway, that’s often the case.
Anyway, whatever it is, don’t be afraid of its plenty.
Joy is not made to be a crumb.
~Mary Oliver



photo credit: Pat Fleming


Join the conversation and post a comment.

  1. Barbara Turner-Vesselago

    That is a beautiful letter, Shayla. Thank you.

  2. Leo Sofer

    Awesome. Thanks for this Shayla. I love how you embraced the sorrow in this way, that’s really inspiring. I wonder what it might be to do that for the sorrow I often feel….

  3. Pearl Wilton

    thank you for putting into words the process of grief and honoring a life. your words have come in the exact right moment for us to honor the tragic death of a member of our family.

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