Dancing with the locals

Have you noticed how many movies include at least one dancing scene? I’m not talking about the inevitable scene where the two main characters end up dancing together. What intrigues me is how movie characters’ dancing with the locals when they visit a country, usually indicates a shift in the plot. It is as if the roles of the characters deepen, and they suddenly view the land around them through fresh eyes.

This reminds me of the time I danced with African sangomas in Venda. It was many years ago and I was travelling as part of a group of people who tried to find wholeness in nature. I knew nothing of the Venda culture and could not understand their language, though we share a homeland, a land made up of many cultures. Although our country, South Africa, has a tragic history that speaks of heartache and intolerance towards each other, we manage to bumble along, bravely holding the banner of the Rainbow Nation. This takes some effort and does not seem to come naturally to any of us. Looking at the bright side, there is lots of proof that if we try really hard, and begin to see each other as equal creations of the same Creator, we can make things better, and even really good. It is a daily choice.

But back to that day in Venda long ago. I was required to take off my shoes, in order to be able to dance around the fire with the five barefoot sangomas, clad in bright clothing, with beads rattling around their ankles with every stamp of their feet. For the couple of minutes that the wild dance lasted, I felt the boundaries separating all the parts of humanity collapse around me. For once in my life I understood that we can learn things from others, no matter how different they are from us.

Next time you travel to Greece, or Hong Kong, or Montana, or perhaps Ireland, don’t be surprised if life leads you to a place where the locals are dancing. Do not hesitate to join them. This is how you learn to feel and join the rhythm of the people of that land. It is the rhythm of life itself, in all its colourful variations. You’ll be making a memory that will last a lifetime. And a little piece of your heart will blend with theirs, and it will remain there as a goodwill ambassador.

The door is always open. Why walk through it when you can dance your way in?


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