When We Are Alone, We Can Dance

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by Beth Ashley

The cruise ship was crowded with people off for three days of pleasure. Ahead of me in the passageway walked a tiny woman in brown slacks, her shoulders hunched, her white hair cut in a bob. From the ship's intercom came a familiar tune - "Begin the Beguine."

And suddenly a wonderful thing happened. The woman, unaware anyone was behind her, did a quick and graceful dance step - back, shuffle, slide. As she reached the door to the dining salon, she re-assembled her dignity and stepped soberly through.

Younger people often think folks my age are beyond romance, dancing or dreams. They see us as age has shaped us; camouflaged by wrinkles, thick waists and gray hair. They don't see the people who live inside - we are the wise old codgers, the dignified matrons.

No one would ever know that I am still the skinny girl who grew up in a leafy suburb of Boston. Inside, I still think of myself as the youngest child in a vivacious family headed by a mother of great beauty and a father of unfailing good cheer.

And I am still the romantic teenager who longed for love, the young adult who aspired to social respectability--but whom shall I tell?

We are all like the woman in the ship's passageway, in whom the music still echoes. We are the sum of all the lives we once lived. We show the grown-up part, but inside we are still the laughing children, the shy teens, the dream-filled youths.

There still exists, most real, the matrix of all we were or ever yearned to be. In our hearts we still hear "Begin the Beguine" - and when we are alone, we dance.

By Beth Ashley from Condensed Chicken Soup for the Soul
Copyright 1996 by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen & Patty Hansen