. . . at some point in our lives we have to be crazy, we have to lose control, step out of our ordinary way of seeing, and learn that the world is not the way we thin it is, that it isn’t solid, structured, and forever. We are going to die someday, and nothing can control it. – Natalie Goldberg
When I was 18, my friend Liz painted my very short hair with tempera paint just before a Tony Vincent show (you may know him from The Voice last season), I was in my first year of a college, a Christian college that I still – 20 years later – love dearly. I was chomping there, trying to bite the reins in half, but I didn’t realize it then.
In the first part of my second semester, friends and I went to a conference in Pittsburgh called Jubilee. A lot of other Christian college students gathered in the hotel, and we heard leaders talk about transformation and faith and the ways we could change the world. Or at least I think that’s what we heard. I only have one flash of memory from the lectures – a hotel conference room, the door of it actually. Nothing else.
What I do remember is the table of books brought by Byron Borger of Hearts and Minds bookstore. I remember my glory at the stacks, my arms full, my purchases – including Madeline L’Engle’s Walking on Water, a book – the book? – that opened me up to the possibility that I might be an artist even more than I might be a teacher, a possibility I wouldn’t accept – tossing aside the ideas of tenure and a study with leather-bound books and students sitting to talk great literature – until just a few years ago now.
But my most vivid memory from Jubilee was a concert. Vigilantes of Love and I had our first meeting. Their gritty, bluegrass-tinged, beat-driven music spoke life to me. I walked to the front of the audience, and I danced. Hard. Spinning. Bouncing. Arms high above my still-short hair. I danced for their whole set.
When the music stopped, I realized that I was alone at the front of the stage.
I’m not sure I’ve done something so free and uninhibited since.
I’m aching to dance with abandon again. To throw off the inhibitions that I’ve added to my shoulders when people have offered them – the ones that bury risk and play under the rubble of expectation and a skewed definition of responsibility. To be crazy, to dance my way out of the ordinary.
Even if I look around to find I danced all alone, it will be joyous.
Do you have any memories of a time you gave yourself over to joy and didn’t consider what people thought?