September 10, 2018

“…all bubbles have a way of bursting or being deflated in the end.”
~ Barry Gibb

Both of my feet have injuries, enough to require splints and constant wearing of sturdy walking shoes. It feels confining and restricting, as well as safe and secure. What bubbles up in the space between are lingering feelings of sadness and sorrow related to my feet.

I so wanted to be a ballerina, having started dance lessons at age five. My teacher wouldn’t let us dance “on pointe” until we were 16. This was for protection of the development of our bones. I will never forget my first pointe class. I showed up early with my shiny, new pink toe shoes. We were instructed by older dancers on how to put them on–stuffing lamb’s wool in the toe area, and then tying them correctly with the equally shiny pink ribbons.

Class began with the usual amount of warm up. I pictured myself as a member of the Joffrey Ballet, equal to the world’s best ballerinas. I remember well the moment when we faced the ballet barre, our knees bent in soft first position plie’. Our teacher called out, “Plie, releve’,” which meant rise to our toes. The bubble of anticipation burst with the first stab of excruciating pain. My hands clutched the warm-up barre in a death grip, as I tried again and again to rise with ease. Each time the pain worsened. When it was time to step away from the barre and move across the floor, I simply could not do it. But, oh, how I tried!

I struggled for a few more weeks, until my teacher asked for a meeting with my mom and me. She told me that my feet were not made for toe dancing. Although I was trim weight wise, my growing-into-womanhood body was stocky, and out of proportion needed for a ballerina. My heart was broken. I get teary remembering, especially right now with pain in both feet. The first bubble of my life’s desire burst. The sadness and sorrow was awful.

I eventually rose above the perceived tragedy under the mentoring of a savvy teacher. She helped me see that there were many forms of dance in which I could excel. Soon I became more of a “show dancer,” thriving in modern dance and musical theatre. I learned to turn the world on with my smile, and not rely on what my body can or cannot do.

I’ve come to see that life is full of desires that form a bubble of anticipation. Some of those bubbles take flight, and some just hover. In the end, every bubble will burst. What I do with that is in my hands and not my feet.

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