Tuesday, October 13, 2009
So, What Makes You Feel Like Dancing?
Can you remember the last time you gave into the urge to dance in the middle of a crowded street? Hmmm. Me neither.
I was drifting pleasantly in that half-dream state, just before waking, knowing that, as soon as I opened my eyes, the door would slam shut on the lovely landscape of sleep, when a new fragment floated to the surface of my almost-consciousness. Concerning a pair of young idealists I'd heard about on the news. It had occurred to them that every day, in expensive hotels the world over, once-used, miniature bars of soap were dumped in the garbage. Because us westerners are very picky, because of, you know, cooties! At the same time they were aware that in Haiti, one of the poorest nations on earth, disease, much of it caused by filth and lack of the means of achieving basic hygiene,is rampant.
Light bulb moment!
What if they could somehow collect all those little discarded bars of soap, sanitize and recycle them and distribute them to the poor of Haiti? They made it happen! Which is why they were on the news. So nice to hear a smidgen of good news once in a while! The news clip showed crowds of Haitian children enthusiastically washing their hands with the recycled soap, and having it impressed upon them that doing this regularly will help to keep them healthy. It is reportedly already having a beneficial effect. Which is great, but not the main point of this post....
The main point is that while they were reporting and the cameras were rolling, showing the eager children scrubbing their hands so vigorously, and the gutters filled with stinking garbage all around, a young girl got caught on camera. She was obviously happy, smiling exuberantly, white teeth flashing in her mahogany face, whirling and dancing in the street for the sheer joy it. And then the camera moved on. But her face stayed with me and followed me into my dreams.
How is it that some of us are elated to be alive, even if we have to live in abject poverty, filth, and disease-ridden misery? Even when our government is so corrupt and unconcerned with providing decent living conditions for its citizens; and others of us, whose governments provide all kinds of services, from sanitation to law and order, from education to justice, to safe living conditions, all we can do is fight and bicker and fail to appreciate our good fortune? How is that, that the haves are so discontented with their abundance, and the have-nots can step over the garbage and dance?
That girl's dazzling smile and joyful dancing will stay in my head for a long time. Maybe it will make me bite my tongue, muffle my petty complaints before they turn into words, or even fully formed thoughts, and make me appreciate the comparative splendor in which I have the good fortune to live!
So, when was the last time you had an irrepressible urge to dance in the street, just for the joy of being alive?