on exuberance


final dance 2


I started this blog with the intention of not including stories about my family, my children in particular. I wanted to keep that world private, protected. But I want to share this story before it becomes memoir, while it is fresh and hopefully infectious, while I am feeling exuberant—the mother/son dance at my son’s wedding.

When our children were young, we vacationed at a lodge on Lake George in Upstate New York. I loved this place. It was a Dirty Dancing kind of resort, minus the dancing and the dirty, and in compliance with the universal, lodge-calendar-of-events, there was a talent show every year. Bruce Springsteen’s 10th Avenue Freeze Out was popular at the time and the song had a saxophone riff that the boys and I mimicked on air saxes. I suggested we turn it into a routine for the Canoe Island Lodge talent show and everyone was on board. We practiced, we danced, we laughed and laughed and at the last minute the boys chickened out and we never did it. But this spring, twenty some years later, my son suggested that he and I should dance to 10th Avenue Freeze Out at his wedding. I was delighted, honored, blown away by his tenderness. Yes, of course, I told him and for 2 weeks I choreographed both our dance and the routine for the band, my younger son and the bride’s brother. It was going to be great, a celebration within a celebration, fun not foolish, despite the fact that I bought blow-up, plastic saxes for the guys. They all had to learn the routine in 2 days and they did. The band brought their A game, sunglasses, swagger, and my son and I danced like pros, with smiles wide enough to take in the entire venue. The wedding guests cheered. It was awesome, it was joyous unrestraint.

Joyous unrestraint, that’s it, that’s exuberance. Requiring almost a clownish confidence, occasional physicality, an appreciation for unrestricted expression. It feels like freedom with an hallelujah chorus. It comes with long lasting side effects: spontaneous smiling, an unworried world, satisfaction. Joy, joy, joy. I could go on and on. Find exuberance, embrace it, exalt it—before you fall off the edge of old.

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