I first met Erin Edmison when we worked at W.W. Norton & Co. when we were young in our careers and our lives, when practically everything we did was for the first time. Not that we’re aged now, but we are, as Louise Brockett our boss from back then would say seasoned. We’ve lived, loved, and lost, we’ve had our share of nursing wounds with, as Erin says “couch, wine, salt & vinegar chips.” All the more reason why taking up something new like Zumba, despite a fear of feeling awkward and looking crazy, could crack open a feeling of lightness to help in dark times. Erin’s story touched a chord in me, take a look:
By Erin Edmison
Like most hard lessons, I’ve had to learn it again and again, and I’m still learning.
Not just the modified-grapevines, the figure-8 hip swivels, punching the air while stomping twice on one foot, once on the other. All in increasingly rapid succession, trying to keep my hips loose but my butt tight, my shoulders down, my stomach in, my back flat. Zumba is not something you pick up on the first try– or, at least, it wasn’t for me.
But it had been a bad month, the kind of month that seemed like one disappointment after another, the kind of month when you find yourself crying across a table with your best friend, a month when more than one person you know dies, when someone you love has symptoms that just don’t add up. The doctors scratch their heads, and your fears play diagnostician while you try to fall asleep.
Why not Zumba? Why not march my clumsy little paws into a dance studio I’d never been to before, why not feel awkward about bouncing out of rhythm, why not catch a glimpse in the mirror of the ridiculous faces I make as I try to concentrate while jumping around like a crazy woman?
I left that class grinning, covered in a sheen of sweat, exhausted from the physical work of moving around rather than the mental work of worrying, of being sad, of being afraid. When I’m upset, it’s always better to do the opposite of what I’m inclined to do (couch, wine, salt & vinegar chips). It is always better to move, and the more challenging the movement, the quieter the mind. It’s a lesson I imagine I’ll have to keep on learning, again and again, til it sticks. At least I can bet life will always give me reason to learn it.
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