When Nothing More is Just Right


Zen isn’t extra time, extra effort or extra attention. Zen is nothing extra.

~Karen Maezen Miller


The ballerina enters, does a pirouette and then a small jump before arching her back gracefully. She looks at the audience for a moment and her eyes glisten with happiness and excitement as if she can’t believe her great fortune of being able to dance, just dance. A second ballerina, in pink leotard, enters and begins spinning and spinning, graceful in her own way and intent while she spins in ecstasy. I don’t understand how she doesn’t get dizzy and fall down. I am dizzy just watching. As the music comes to a close, the two dancers bow to the audience, smiles radiating from their beatific faces.

This show didn’t cost much, just a little bit of time really and I didn’t have to drive far or wait in line. In fact I was able to see this from the comfort of my own home, just by turning around in the same chair from which I ate dinner. Yes this was my own sweet girls doing their thing and it was spectacular.

For a brief moment as I watched Maddie’s intent and purposeful movements I thought she could be a dancer. But then as quickly as the thought arose, it passed away and I was left wondering where it came from and why I would jump to the conclusion that she should be a dancer. To be a dancer would require hours of practice, fancy outfits, competition and achievement. As I let this percolate, I realized that I had made something out of nothing. Here she was just dancing, naturally and freely and I had created fiction from something actual and real. We seem to do this all too quickly with our children and ourselves. Whenever we see some nascent talent or glimmer of interest, we jump to it being someone that they become. Oh you love animals, we think. Perhaps you will be a veterinarian.  We seem to have an insatiable drive for making something out of nothing, for more, bigger and different. Intoxicated with the notion that bigger is always better, that better is always better, we are left incapable of actually enjoying our lives in all of its ordinary beauty. Can’t my girls just dance for the joy and fun of it?

As I sat next to the most beautiful woman in the world watching and grinning from ear to ear, I understood that in fact Maddie is already a dancer. No stage or big lights needed; no years of practice and bettering oneself; and no fancy wardrobes (well, I will be honest, a pink tutu goes a long way). The reality is that no amount of striving could ever improve upon this moment, this dance, these girls; and no amount of polishing this tile could ever make her shine more brightly.

by David LaFever

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