Healing and Ugly Dancing


There was a lot of yelling at my house on New Year’s Eve and it was such a great thing! But we’ll get to that.

Let’s talk about healing. Specifically about emotional and mental healing. I’m going to come at it a bit sideways. Let’s say you’re at home cooking and – oops! – you accidentally put your hand on the stove. What happens next? If you’re like me, you pull your hand back faster than you knew possible while cursing (also faster than you knew was possible) and dash over to the sink to immediately run cool water on it and survey the damage.

How about if you or a loved one falls down while you’re out having a grand time (grand time? Who says grand time? A bit less Turner Classic Movies for you Brian). Anyway, you’re out having a grand time let’s say, for seasonal sake, playing in the snow and you or a loved one falls down and seems to have broken something or at least badly sprained it. Yikes. What happens next? Everyone springs into action to immediately and as lovingly as possible convey the injured party to the nearest urgent care, right? Cool.

The point is that when you or someone you love is physically injured whether the injury is minor or more serious there’s no discussion, there’s no judgment, there’s no hesitation, everything else stops immediately to make way for the healing. It’s just 100% what needs to be done. It is obvious and the only loving course of action. The stove may get turned off but the food will be left there for now – it can wait. The sleds may be collected but the snowman is abandoned – it can wait. Of course. Healing comes first. Always.

Why don’t we take the same approach, operate under the same paradigm, with less visible malodies? Whether relatively minor like a day that’s gone awry or a careless critical comment or argument that’s pushing all of your buttons, or a more serious challenge like a depressive episode or anxiety attack. Healing is what’s called for and just as immediately. Why don’t we treat that the same? More to the point, how transformational would it be if we did? I cannot a imagine a more direct path to destigmatizing emotional and mental health challenges than treating them with the same urgency, respect, and loving compassion that we do our physical pains. Can you imagine it? Does the notion alone give you a deep breath the way it does me? Good. Then let’s do it. That’s all it takes afterall. You and I begin. It’ll take some practice but practice only requires starting and then repeating and repeating and repeating until it’s habit, until it’s a new zero state.

Just a thought for your consideration especially in this time when so many of us may be in need - metaphorically speaking - of some cool water on a burned routine or some more urgent care to help heal a broken spirit. We know how to prioritize and we know how to heal. We just need to transfer those instincts and skills to where they’ve always been longed for and needed.

Which reminds me about New Years Eve.

When I was a child, the dominant memory I have regarding New Year’s - besides getting to stay up late, obviously - was that once the clock struck midnight we would dash out into the driveway screaming and hollering and banging pots and pans and just generally making as much noise as we could in celebration. That tradition has long faded but I still make it a point to go outside at midnight and welcome the new year.

OK, fast forward to this year I went out onto the porch at midnight. Sitting on the porch swing taking in the night and the fireworks that were popping off all around the small lake in the neighborhood in which I live (a gratefully odd but ubiquitous feature of neighborhoods in suburban Atlanta btw). Anyway, I’m sitting on the porch swing taking it all in when something very interesting started to happen. All around the lake I started to hear people yelling. I heard pots and pans banging. I started yelling back. They started yelling back. All around the lake and neighborhood unseen people were yelling “Happy New Year!” Yelling “Happy 2019!” And – best of all – just plain yelling! People just screaming their heads off! It was like the sound your barbaric yawp scene from the movie Dead Poets Society or the screaming into the abyss scene from Garden State. It was all of that. And it went on for 10 minutes or so. And hell yes I screamed my head off until I was crying and laughing! I suspect it will go down as one of my favorite New Year’s memories. And it’s damn sure a renewed New Year’s tradition now.

It’s so interesting because it’s this tiny window, this tiny slice of time, where that behavior is 100% socially acceptable. But it got me thinking, I need to yell more. I don’t mean at people of course but I need to let it rip more. I need to find ways to just sound that barbaric yawp, to yell into the abyss, to simply let it out. The process of letting it out - or the process of letting go - is really all about creating space for more; creating space for new. That’s the opportunity. That’s the win.

So, I offer this to you as a suggestion; a new simple randomly available completely affordable tool. Grab your pillow if you can’t go somewhere into the woods or something. Scream, punch, kick, let it out whenever you feel the urge. Let it out whenever you feel constricted. Let it out so you can let the new in. Also, it’s fun.

Oh and another thing – and I so hope this is far from the last time I mention it – ugly dance. I love ugly dancing! I love when I have a space to myself to crank up some music and just dance my brains out. Not trying to look good or look cool, I just move my body in any weird wild crazy way I feel called to – not think to – feel to. So healing! So liberating! I often wake up sore the next day but I also wake up cleaner. I wake up feeling just a little better; just a little more like myself and just a little freer to play more in my life and to step more into the things that I most want for myself. I could not recommend it more.

One last story that I just can’t resist telling and that I think fits squarely into this. The other night I was coming out of my day job which is in a very crowded area. As I was walking out the door I heard this odd shaker sound, like pebbles in a tin can. It was very rhythmic and it was fairly loud. I was looking around trying to figure out where it was coming from. (I was also trying to figure out why I was the only one trying to figure out where it was coming from but that’s a whole different thing.) Finally, a car turned the corner. It was this very nice black Mercedes SUV with the windows down. There was a man with a beard probably around 60 years old in the driver seat. He was full on shaking maracas. Yes, you read that right. Eight o’clock at night, windows down, busy public street, driving his car and shaking maracas. This made me very happy. You do you sir. You do you.

Point being? You do you too, kind soul. Let it rip. Lean into your joy. Lean into whatever helps you let loose and release your pain. Worry less about what it may look like to others, lean more into what it feels like for you. Let that freak flag fly. Sometimes the healing we talked about earlier is as close as screaming into our pillows or putting in our earbuds and dancing our brains out or just turning up the radio in the car and letting it rip. How about that for a resolution?

More to come. Thanks for reading. If you have any thoughts you’d like to share, please do share them. Let’s continue.

Be good to you.


Brian Perry1 Comment