The song “Dancing Through Life” from the musical Wicked keeps running through my head this morning. I love the light melody juxtaposed to the satire of the lyrics:
“Dancing through life,
Swaying and sweeping and always keeping cool,
Life is fraughtless when you’re thoughtless,
Those who don’t try never look foolish…”
At the same time, I keep thinking about Japanese director Akira Kurosawa’s observation that “To be an artist means never to avert your eyes.”
“Don’t try, don’t look foolish” versus “Don’t avert your eyes”
Resistance sometimes comes from the desire to not look foolish; it always comes from the desire to not see.
When we feel resistance in any form, it’s because we haven’t fully committed to seeing what’s true. We want to be thoughtless so life can be fraughtless. We want to avert our eyes. There are painful truths we don’t want to know we know.
But the resistance, the very thing you struggle with and perhaps wish would disappear, is actually your saving grace.
As long as you feel resistance, you haven’t given up. If even the smallest part of you still wants to write, that crucial part isn’t willing to just dance through life. You don’t really want to, as the song suggests, “Stop studying strife and learn to live the unexamined life.”
You can’t help but look. Maybe you can’t look very long, but you can’t stop trying. As you build your capacity to look longer and longer before you avert your eyes, you build your capacity to be the artist you were born to be.
Here’s the kicker, when you learn to look long and hard, when you learn to really see, you see that – amidst the pain, fear and strife you want to avert your eyes from – there is beauty, music and joy.
You still want to dance. You dance, not to avoid reality, but to embrace life fully. You dance with your eyes open.