“I’m Doing the Dance”
The Title of Ti Ti’s Poem

Wednesday’s essay featured Snow’s poem, which addressed her question about when will these evils end? Today’s essay deals with Ti Ti’s masterpiece. Now, Ti Ti is the oldest of my three granddaughters and was the link that united our families. I love Ti Ti even though she beat me at Scrabble when we first met.

It was obvious that Ti Ti was a gifted child when we first met during winter break in 2013. Even then, she was an overachiever. Today, her drive is on steroids.

This is Ti Ti’s email to me about the world in which she lives. It is filled with coronavirus deaths and deaths due to the military coup.

Dear Papa Al,

Sorry, I took too long to complete a single poem. It’s been a long time that I am far away from English and Poems. So, I have to warm up and storm my brain. In this poem, the sentences are too long __ more like an essay and it is not the best poem. But I write this with all my heart and my feeling, the life of me, my friends, and the people in Myanmar have been through. But my poetic skill has really become rotted and it needs to be sharpened again. 

I haven’t named this poem. I will be happy if you would name it for me. 

I remember the past when I was in school,
All the times that my friends and I fool;
We promised each other to study harder
Seems like our dreams are becoming tougher.

In Myanmar spring, the green leaves fall and the flowers die;
Was the promise you made to see me at school just a lie?
Who would’ve thought the 1st time we hang out would be our last
If I have a chance, I want to see you guys again at Ocean Mart.

Our youths have no Universities and no schools
But we have untold cases of Corona and Shots;
Some days pass without internet and news,
Most days without dinner set and jollity hues.

We live in a place where millions of dreams stay:
Also, the same place where those dreams are killed;
“Dreams Do come true, Dear Ti Ti” as you say
But now, Nightmares are the dreams that life fulfilled.

Who cares if life burns our aspirations like fire?
I refuse to rot all day, I’ll chase after my desires
Study non-stop because I have dreams to acquire;
To who is reading, hope this poem could inspire. 

With passion and action, work until feelin’ burnout,
We only have one life to make what we want workout;
Take a step, follow the dream with no doubt
One day, looking back, see what our stories turn out.

As alluring, graceful Lotus only blooms in mud,
We grew better as we are when times are tough;
When things get better, there is a thing that I want:
Nothing special, no-cost, but exquisite___a hug.


Ti Ti wanted me to title her poem, which I did. My title is I’m Doing the Dance. Allow me to give you the backstory about that title. In 2008, I was doing my dance with death…twice. One dance was prostate cancer that had metastasized beyond the prostate. The other dance was a subdural hematoma or a traumatic brain injury. That dance caused me to start my life all over…physically and emotionally. As I recovered, it took me a couple of years before I realized that I had radically changed my Weltanschauung due to doing the dance.

I wouldn’t want to do either dance again, but I would never delete either experience from my journey down the yellow brick road of my life. It caused me to wake up to the reality that my clock is ticking. At a superficial level, we all know that we are mortal. Dance with death and reality is seen at a significantly higher level.

What Ti Ti’s poem is about are her two dances with death. She, along with the entire world, is coming to terms with the possibility of catching COVID-19. That isn’t a pleasant reality that the coronavirus could make Ti Ti very sick or even worse. Her poem is dealing with that dance, and her struggle has not ended.

The second dance is getting caught in the civil war in Myanmar. The chance of getting shot during the military coup isn’t something that is readily grasped or understood. In either of her dances, the worst-case scenarios loom around her 24/7. When Ti Ti walks down the street, she doesn’t COVID-19 or a bullet. That is scary. None of us are capable of seeing the threatening unknown.

So, Ti Ti is wrestling with the reality of the real world. Over two years ago, I returned to Myanmar for the third trip to visit my family. We went on our first family tour together. From an elephant ride over the Alps of Myanmar to ballooning over Bagan, we had the time of our lives. We were planning our second family tour during my during winter break this year. We had our itinerary pretty much planned.

We were oblivious to what was about to occur in a couple months after I returned to America. COVID-19 was coming. The following year the military staged a coup. Neither of those dances with death could have been foreseen by anyone.

The following part of this is directed to Ti Ti. Nevertheless, it is a metaphor for you, my reader. We all must grasp this mindset.

Ti Ti you are the crème de crème. You are an exceptional young lady. I went to Myanmar the first time to interview the Lady and failed. However, I found a young lady. You wanted to beat me at Scrabble, but you also were the link that bonded our families. You, your sisters, and your parents changed my Weltanschauung. I admire you. Your intellect and caring aren’t paralleled by many adults.

You are going through putting the pieces of your two dances into a logical framework. I did the same thing after my two dances. However, it won’t be long before all the pieces fit. I won’t want to relive my two dances, and neither will you. Nonetheless, doing the dances teaches you about living in the real world.

The feeling of gloom and doom isn’t pleasant. However, we have a choice. It is a Kierkegaardian question: either/or. Either we face death and lead death on our dancefloor of life, or we sit and complain about life.

Doing the dance will benefit you. When you look back upon these times years from now, you will discover that you are a more driven and dedicated person. Ti Ti, that is true. Trust me. Greatest isn’t something given to us. We need to address those looming fears and problems, and addressing those problems is the avenue to greatness.

If your past determination to overcome all obstacles, you will do wonders in your world. Oops. I nearly forgot. This is another assignment. I love giving assignments to my classes in America and to my three granddaughters. Professor PaPa Al is always looking for a teaching moment. This is one of them.

I have made you some promises. One of my promises is that “I shall return.” Come hell or high water, “I shall return.” Your assignment is to find out who said that comment before me. This is a hint. It was said ten months before I was born. Research the situation facing this person and what motivated this person to fulfill his promise.

At one level, that person’s history regarding that promise and mine is very similar. Your assignment is to be a 500-word essay. What is the parallel or metaphor between that person and me? Something must have driven both of us.