I keep looking at the unfinished question.

It is half a question. Or a whole question, half-asked. Like a croissant with a bite out of it, just sitting on a plate.

Or maybe it is the finished question. Finished as in: ready. Ready for me. Maybe it’s all I need to ask:

What is more astonishing? 

Yes, Havi. What is more astonishing?

I found this question one morning, scribbled on a post-it next to my bed, and laughed for a very long minute.

It’s like a Richard Brautigan poem, from that very specific category of “Things a regret-filled alcoholic writes down, finds later, is intrigued by, recognizes as poetry”.

Of course, the original question I intended to write and didn’t finish might easily have been more along the lines of: “What’s more astonishing, that Chris Pratt has an entirely new body or that the Tile app is a thing that exists, or will?”

But I don’t know. I don’t have an X or a Y to compare. All I have is the question, and I love it.

So I’m going to ask it. I will let it reverberate, like a stone skipping across the water.

What is more astonishing?

That I spent ten years devoting my life to bringing a very particular dance into the world but didn’t think of myself as a dancer. A dance instructor maybe, but not a dancer.

And now I don’t teach that dance anymore. (Well, except secretly at Rally, but that isn’t actually teaching so much as playing).

But you know what? I am more of a dancer than I ever was before. I am at home in dance.

I am at home in dance again. In the sense that I have returned to being a dancer. I have returned to my gazelle roots.

What is more astonishing?

That I am a dancer who suddenly has a ballroom. With the best dance floor in town.

I have a ballroom. I have a BALLROOM. I have a Ballroom.

What is more astonishing?

That oh, maybe six or seven years ago, in Berlin, I was slowly climbing the stairs to an old dusty ballroom. Trembling, because I knew this was the most thrilling and important moment of my life even though I didn’t know why.

I walked in, felt its pull, looked up at the chandeliers entwined in masses of cobwebs, and burst into tears.

It was the strongest emotion I have ever felt in my entire life.

I stood on the low stage, filled with awe, and whispered: I have danced here. I have danced here.

It wasn’t true because I had never been there, but it was true, because I remembered it.

The next day I went back and the ballroom was being renovated. Cleaned up and modernized. No more cobwebs. I had been with it on its last day as what it had been. What it had been when I had danced there in my memories and dreams.

I had arrived just in time for the goodbye. And now I have a ballroom of my own.

What is more astonishing?

That I was not thinking about any of this when I suddenly acquired a ballroom. In fact, I tried to make my ballroom into a [magical bookshop, let’s say] instead of letting it be a ballroom.

That is astonishing too.

What is more astonishing?

That my ballroom is the Red Rose.

I always thought I didn’t like roses, but then I moved to the Rose City almost six years ago, and then one thing happened and then another thing, and now I am mad about roses.

A song just came on in the cafe I am in and it is a song about roses. It was a sweet moment.

What is more astonishing?

That I don’t want to wear black and grey anymore.

What is more astonishing?

That I ended a relationship and doing this was the scariest thing I have ever done, because who am I without this and how can I be happy without this.

And nothing is wrong.

I still have this person, I still have this love, I still have all the things I need. Just in a new configuration. Everything reconfigures. And I am okay.

And if I had lost this person, I would still be okay. That is astonishing.

What is more astonishing?

That I am looking forward to being 37. A smoking hot 37. This number suddenly appeals to me greatly.

What is more astonishing?

That I suddenly have two mathematicians in my life. Me, who barely has fourth grade math skills.

What is more astonishing?

That I am admitting to myself that I care deeply about things that I have always cared about but pretended not to.

Dancing, for one thing. Clothing and costumes. Adoration. Thankfulness. Flowers.

What is more astonishing?

That I am suddenly ready to care less about other things.

Even more astonishing: I think I’m finally ready to let go of the need to care what everyone else might be thinking about the other things. Or about me…

Because caring what they think and worrying about what they are possibly thinking falls under the category of Not My Job.

I’m quitting that job. I keep agreeing to come back, but I’m quitting.

It’s hard when you were raised in a culture that thinks this is a very important job and also that it should be your job.

It is astonishing that we put up with that.

What is more astonishing?

That suddenly I want to be seen.

In all kinds of different ways.

What is more astonishing?

Actually, it is even more astonishing than that, because not only do I have this sudden unlikely desire to be seen, I also want to be more invisible than I have ever wanted before.

It’s almost as if the ways I want to be seen and invisible are not just different than they used to be, but reversed.

I used to want to be seen in my business, seen as a teacher, seen as a leading expert of the [Tree of Life] practice. A being seen that was about authoritative presence.

But to be invisible in my personal life: anonymous, free to slip by without being noticed. An invisibility that was about safety and comfort.

Now I want my Ballroom to be seen by people who need it, and the techniques and concepts that I play with to be seen by people who need them. But I don’t want to be at the front of the room anymore. In fact, I don’t want to even be in a world where there’s anyone at the front of the room.

I want us to play, together, as equals. Not with me as the leader. Without being projected onto, without being cast in the role of the person who knows stuff. We all know stuff.

But in my personal life? I want to wear tight gold pants. I want to shine. I want to dance all night and to carry my beautiful, quiet, steadily humming glow with me everywhere I go.

Yes, this is astonishing.

What is more astonishing?

That I have been silent for nearly a year now, and this has been one of the most creative periods I have ever experienced.

That the quieter I get, the more my heart overflows with sweetness.

That I have an imaginary chocolate shop, which is also filled with sweetness.

That I had to get this quiet to let other things get louder.

What is more astonishing?

That my whole life is full of absolutely astonishing things, and I am apparently oblivious to this, blithely walking through my astonishing life and not even noticing.

What is more astonishing?

That pretty much everything in my life fell apart over the last two years, and I am actually suddenly, much to my surprise, kind of okay with all that. Kind of happy about it, even.

Or let’s say that differently:

I am discovering an astonishingly thankful heart. Along with the me who trusts that all timing is right timing.

I am uncovering appreciation for the way I lost the things I lost, and appreciation for the parts that are not lost at all. I am looking at the broken pots, and loving them, deeply. Roses for the broken pots. Roses for the new containers. Roses for all of it.

Play with me?

You can ask this (astonishing) question yourself if you like, and discover what is more astonishing.

You can share sparks sparked for you. You can leave love and flowers.

Commenting culture: we are on permanent vacation from caretaking and advice-giving. We let people have their own experience, and we are kind, both to ourselves and each other.

Love, as always, to the commenter mice, the Beloved Lurkers and everyone who reads. The fact that you are all here to keep me company counts as another astonishing thing that I appreciate greatly.


This post is an (edited) excerpt from one of my Year Books for my Year of Emptying And Replenishing, where I model process/techniques in a more intimate way than on the blog. Currently deciding if these should be made available for purchase on their own, or just with next year’s program, which has not been named yet. Let me know if you have an inclination.

The Fluent Self