Clarity About Dancing
Being Arthur Murray in the Real World

When teaching any class, I encourage students to question comments that I make. I am not put off when student want to debate me on some point that I had made. It is a learning experience for both of us. A student’s query allows me to restate or rephrase some point that I was making. The student will explain why he or she doesn’t buy into what I was saying. By listening to their concern, it explains where they are. Questioning allows for learning to occur.

I have a friend that has heard me talk about doing the dance with death. He buys my sincerity but questions that one must dance with death to reach that level of understanding. He said that perhaps my sensitivity is due as much to being old. My retort was twofold: Are all dancers old and are all old people sensitive? Socrates would have been proud of dialectic response. Ask the person to answer the question. If you are correct about your position, they will prove it by addressing your question.

For example, age is irrelevant to doing the dance. Half of my list of dancers weren’t old. These are the ones that saw the light and died soon after: Randy Pausch was early to mid-40s. Alan Seeger was in his 20s. Steve Biko was 30. Alexander the Great was in his early 30s. Then Saul Alinsky, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, David Hume, etc. might have seen the light and lived decades more. John Donne is an example of that. He did the dance but died years later. Therefore, there is no real relevance to age of the dancer.

My second question was about whether all old people sensitive? I don’t buy that all older people’s modus operandi is being sensitive. Therefore, my friend may still not buy my statements about coming alive due to dancing with death, but his argument isn’t logical.

Now, my friend is on the horns of a dilemma that of accepting something about dancing with death without having danced. What is haunting about that dilemma is that I wouldn’t have bought into it prior to my dancing. It was only after seeing Pausch’s Last Lecture did I grasp that reality.

The dance with death due to the plague

It is difficult for any of us to grasp any concept having not, in some matter, experienced it. I have written about being told my eye doctor that I had cataracts. It was only after having the cataracts removed did I truly see the bright lights of life.

I have taught at the college level for over two decades. In every class, I have told all my students to travel overseas if they wish to be educated. This is another teaching moment. They can read about Myanmar, South Africa, Vietnam, Chile, French Polynesia, etc. They can watch videos or see pictures of those countries. However, that learning experience is very limited. George Santayana said, “A child educated only at school is an uneducated child.”

Here again, without traveling, one can’t really have grasp knowledge or learning that person is missing. There is an entirely different Weltanschauung when a person sees Paris, Yangon, or Cairo for him or herself. Plato addresses this truism in The Cave. We all are sitting in our caves of life looking at shadows on the cave walls believing what we see as reality. Only by getting out of the caves will the person see the world. Cave dweller haven’t done the dance of life.


I have another friend who told me he didn’t want me to talk about the dancing with death with him. Apparently, I talked too much about it. He moved away and came back for a visit. We had breakfast when he returned to Crown Point. I didn’t mention death and dancing. Halfway through breakfast…guess who went on and on about his recent dance?

All dancers share a common problem…preaching to the choir. However, the choir isn’t in that church. The choir is sitting in another church in a faraway town.

Sometime, each of us will run out of dances on our dance card of life….

Your dance card

You know that you won’t live forever…even a 5-year-old knows that truth. However, try to spend whatever time you have left on your dance card wisely. That raises a quandary for me. The best that I can do is to sensitize my friend and readers of this essay to a truth about the benefits of successfully doing the dance, which is hidden from them. Hopefully, they will dance successfully with death at least once before there aren’t any more dances in their lives. The best that I can do is to caution my friend and readers about something about which they are not aware. Their clocks are ticking. Get into gear. Enjoy the time that you have. Help people. Learn.

My Hauntings

My Hauntings

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The Last Lecture

The Last Lecture

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Dancing with Death

Dancing with Death

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Connecting The Dots

Connecting the Dots

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On Seeing the Light

On Seeing the Light

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Best of Times

Best and Worst of Times

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