The Dance

August 08, 2009 · By Sloane Davidson, Founder and CEO, Hello Neighbor


"If you can walk you can dance. If you can talk you can sing." - Zimbabwe Proverb

I recently was emailing with Chris Guillebeau about fear - how certain people can get over fear and get out there in the world to do the things they want to do and how others can't seem to overcome the hump.

I was trying to articulate how I've been able to overcome the hump. In short, how in the world this past year - which by all accounts has turned by world upside down ten times over - somehow has left me stronger and more sure of myself in ways I can't even fully fathom yet - seeing as how I'm still in the midst of all these changes.

A simple story occurred to me, and I wanted to share it here with you.

Last night I was invited to a bar in Manila with live music by an Australian expat I was introduced to over email. How I met her is in and of itself a tale of making things happen. Another Kiva Fellow, Susan Arthur, introduced me over email to Gregg Butensky, who has an ongoing library project here in the Philippines. Our schedules here didn't overlap, but he introduced me to Cherie McCosker, the Australian mentioned above who works here with Advocate of Philippine Fair Trade, Inc. Cherie and I met up for dinner last week to talk fair trade, economic development, Kiva, microfinance and living abroad. She is incredible and I'm so happy to have met her.

Cherie invited me to hear a band she loves, Juan Pablo Dream, a bassa nova band here in the Philippines. She said it would be "jazzy, funky, with trumpets and cover songs and lots of dancing." I love live music, I couldn't wait to go.

But Friday I was beat tired. I've had some long weeks and they are starting to take a toll. I really considered many times between 8-11pm to text her and say I just couldn't make it. I just don't like bailing on plans and so I dragged my weary bones to meet her at Penguin Bar in Malate. I arrived, paid the 150 peso cover (including a beer coupon this is about a $3 cover charge). My jaw dropped.

Everyone was dancing without a care in the world! It was a lot of expats, Peace Corps people, hippies and the band. Wow. Soul, funk, no pretension and just making sure everyone was having a good time. Not a huge venue, just a little bar with a band performing at the front. The kind of fun, spontaneous night that I would have in Los Angeles with my friend Casey and her and I would just dance and dance and laugh and just enjoy the moment for what it was.

This slightly drunk hippie french couple were dancing. They weren't particularly good but I couldn't stop watching them. He would turn her and twist her and sometimes one or the other would half lose their balance and almost fall and then laugh and hug each other and keep going. They had the appearance of great dancers. A light bulb went off. They looked great and like they had such terrific rhythm because they didn't stop moving. They kept going and so even losing their balance looked like a dance step. They didn't care if they messed up, they weren't performing a particular move, just moving to the music in a way that felt good to them. They were free and you could see it in every dip and step they took.

*Here's what I came up with. That's how I see my life now. *

I keep moving. There is no right or wrong as long as I keep going. This doesn't have to mean physically or geographically moving around, but the act of keeping going. Keep going. Keep moving. Experience the rhythm of life, take it all in and then interpret it however you want to. There are always people on the sidelines. People scared to dance, they don't know how, they don't like the song being played. But what if we all got up and threw our heads back and closed our eyes and just tried. Just danced anyway.

You don't have to be good, you just have to try. And somehow, in the trying, you find your own rhythm and that is the greatness. That is what makes all the difference.

The song I hear now is not familiar to me. I'm in a country not my own, on my own. But I don't feel alone, and I don't feel lost. I feel like I'm moving a little bit closer every day to my legacy, to where my life is supposed to be. And that is one sweet song to hear.