What Lifts You Up When You're Down? | Identifying Your Fundamental Passion
If you happen to be someone with vast and varied interests, you will understand how difficult it can be to focus and decide on a single path to follow. Now in general, I do not think that life should only take one road for its entirety, for I consider myself multi-passionate. I am a believer in paths that look like bare branches, with little trajectories poking and sprawling out in different directions, but they all need to be connected by a common trunk. The key is finding and holding onto that fundamental piece. The main road you keep coming back to. How do you know you are on the right one?
There are a couple questions you can ask yourself:
What pushes me to be my best self and gets me off of the floor when I’m having a rough day?
Which passion brings me pure joy no matter what state I’m in?
My trip to Madrid ended up not only being a chance to take workshops and spend some time wandering a beautiful and beloved city, but a strong reminder that dance is always the thing that will drag me back to my feet when I’m knocked down.
I was in Spain with the primary purpose of taking a week to intensively train with two teachers whom I admire and respect. This plan quickly hit a snag. On day one of the workshops, I started to feel a bit woozy and by the evening session I was completely nauseous, getting dizzy from simple neck stretches. I decided to sit and take a breather, watching instead of dancing so at least my eyes could take in some of the information. Unfortunately, the pounding in my head and cramps in my stomach wouldn’t let me sit still and I ended up having to leave midway through to stumble back to my airbnb and lay flat on my back for a while.
I woke up feeling even worse, still nauseous and dizzy, in feverish cold sweats. There was no way that I was going to make it to those workshops the second day. I can be a bit of an overdramatic patient sometimes, so at first I lay around worrying about worst-case scenarios; what if this weird stomach virus lasted the whole week? What if I had to go to a Spanish hospital and I couldn’t explain what was happening? I realized though, that there was nothing to do in the moment except take deep breaths, drink a lot of ginger and turmeric tea (that I had thankfully packed), and keep the body resting.
Now there are some specific cases when you are sick and it’s almost a relief to be laying down, relaxing, watching TV all day and not caring about a thing in the world. This was not the case. For the entire day, all I could think about were the workshops that I was missing and all I could hear was this constant chant in my head- “You have to get better to dance. You have to get better to dance.”
This determined day of flat-out rest seemed to work, because the next morning, while I still wasn’t 100% recovered, I felt much better and decided to get myself to the studio and do what I could. I pushed through the first class, taking occasional breathers and extra pauses to stretch and sit. By the second class I was completely swept away by the movement and energy of it all, almost forgetting that I had been sick just 24 hours beforehand.
I thought about this quote by the author Michael A Singer, written in his book The Untethered Soul,
“The only thing you have to know is that opening allows energy in, and closing blocks it out. Now you have to decide whether or not you want this energy … How much love do you want to feel? How much enthusiasm do you want to have for the things you do? If enjoying a full life means experiencing high energy, love, and enthusiasm all the time, then don’t ever close.”
Despite not feeling like my best physical self, my love of dance allowed me to stay open to letting the energy of a class in and feel it fully, while simultaneously learning more about listening to the signals of my body, knowing when to take is easy and rest.
Deciding to work through that push and pull made me see in a new light just how much I will do in order to dance. It is the thing that always brings me pure joy. Author Ingrid Fetell wrote that “joy isn’t a signal that you’re not serious. It’s a sign that you’re curious and engaged.” I’ll go even further to say that joy is in fact a signal that you are seriously living your passion. You are in alignment with that fundamental trunk that holds your branches and off-shoots together.
I should mention that I was also able to power through the momentary illness because of the motivation and inspiration instilled in me by the two incredible workshop leaders, my friends and colleagues Natalia Fernandes and Pau Aran. Having solid mentors in your chosen creative work makes all the difference. I have worked with both of them before and they are two souls that constantly remind me of why I love what I do, leading by example through their own work and passion. Wanting to learn even more from them was another motivating factor in recovering as fast as possible.
Of course, I’m not saying that everything can be healed by the determination to do what you love, but for me it was a reminder to take better care of myself when I am not feeling physically fit so that I can keep pursuing my passion with the greatest energy possible. In her memoir, Jeanette Winterson says that,
“Creativity is on the side of health— it isn’t the thing that drives us mad; it is the capacity in us that tries to save us from madness.”
I realized through being sick that dance is what will always pull me up from negativity. Yes, I love to write, I love to cook and bake and practice yoga, but none of these things feed my soul and spirit in the same way. Dance saves me and lifts me up when I’m down.
So this is how you know if you have found your own tree trunk. If you are following that main road, whatever gets in your way will be passable. You will find a way to overcome any roadblock and make it back stronger on the other side, because you love the path you are on. Let’s just hope it doesn’t take getting sick again to remind myself that dance is always what brings me home.