I discovered the secret to dancing one night. I had been looking forward to dancing all day as I stared out my office window, click click clicking away at the keyboard. Finally I arrived at the dance. But… it wasn’t right. The music just wasn’t good. And I discovered my feet tired, my mood melancholy. I figured I might as well go home and call it a night.
But then… I let myself, just for a moment, suspend my complaints and criticisms, and look to see if I could find anything pleasing in that moment. At first my mind resisted, reeling like a car transmission forced to shift several gears. But my eyes caught on a string of lights. “Oh, pretty,” I thought. Then my eyes noticed the burnt orange of a man’s shirt (so nice, and so unusual, that color). Then I noticed a tiny pleasure in the way I moved my leg to the right, and the left, in rhythm to the beat. And appreciation into appreciation cascaded until I found myself moving in a trance of delight.
Had the music shifted, or was it just me? Whereas at first I wanted to go home, that game of attention brought me to the most transcendentally joyous evening.
Since then I’ve noticed that the secret to dancing is the secret to a lot of things. I came to call it “giving love to the altar of the moment”—a micro-ritual to notice what is good in the immediate moment, and keep noticing, and keep noticing. Every moment has a gift to give and if we can leave it sacraments of our loving attention, I believe doors open to very exquisite moments.
What can you appreciate in this moment?