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“Life’s a dance”

I have this shirt that I love. My wonderfully crafty wife made it for me. It says “ecnaD a s’efiL.”

I was on a music kick and had asked her to make me some stuff representing some of my favorite songs. The graphic she printed for John Michael Montgomery’s “Life’s a Dance” came out backwards.

She fussed at herself for forgetting to flip the image, but I saw it and knew the magic of it, like the magic in many created things, came from the perceived error.

When I tried to read “ecnaD a s’efiL” I realized other people would try to do the same thing. I’m like a walking puzzle for strangers when I wear it. I watch them figure it out. Their eyes light up, and they say, “Life’s a Dance!”

What might have been a clichéd phrase they walked right past turns into something that hits harder and hopefully reminds them to relax a little.

I likely think that because I need the reminder myself. The shirt does that for me too.

Every time I look in the mirror, the letters flip and read correctly. They remind me the point of living is to live – just like the point of dancing is to dance.

That’s not an original thought, but it’s one I think about a lot since I heard the philosopher and theologian Alan Watts share it. Watts said, “We thought of life by analogy with a journey, a pilgrimage, which had a serious purpose at the end, and the thing was to get to that end, success or whatever it is – maybe heaven, after you’re dead. But we missed the point the whole way along. It was a musical thing, and you were supposed to sing or to dance while the music was being played.”

Watts goes on to explain that the purpose of dancing is not to get from point A to point B. The purpose is to dance, to move about guided only by the notion of the moment to step here, step there, or turn, turn, turn.

I spent a good deal of my life not “dancing.” I searched and searched for some specific plan, where God would say you need to do this, this, and that.

I beat myself up for not being able to live out some long-ago decided purpose.

What a waste of time that was.

I know now that life truly is a dance.

God is our dance partner. He gives us the freewill to move wherever we’d like, but what he really wants is for us to be there with him, step for step, listening to the music life is making and trusting in the moment we’re sharing with him.

I’m not always the best partner. I step on my own toes. I try to lead when I should follow. I stop listening and lose the rhythm – but I want to live that way.

I want to hear the music. I want to do more than just live. I want to dance.

Stults is a performing songwriter from Russellville.