We’re All In the Dance

Often, I run with my friend Keith. We can go as many as ten miles together, and the conversations run the gamut. But I always have my i-Pod (I just wrote the word Walkman and had to delete it – Google Walkman if you are under twenty). Once, I joked with Keith that if I ever died while we were running–via a tree limb or a plummet from a cliff–that he was to make sure there was a cool song playing on my i-Pod. My playlist is eclectic, to say the least. And I would hate for someone to find my body and have Kelly Clarkson, Justin Bieber and Nicki Minaj or any number of Pitbull songs blasting from my ear buds. I’m 43 for Christ’s sake. I love pop music and I’m very top 40, but I would hate for my legacy to begin with Lady Gaga’s Edge of Glory (even though the late, great Clarence Clemons plays saxophone on it). But there is one song that I would proudly play in any situation. We’re All in the Dance by Canadian singer-songwriting sensation, Feist.

Life’s a dance, we all have to do
What does the music require?
People are moving together
Close as the flames in a fire

I heard this song yesterday as I was running the trails of the Schuylkill River on the outskirts of Philadelphia. My mind immediately took me to the Broad Street Run, the premier race in the city of Brotherly Love–which just happened to be yesterday morning. This song was part of my race day repertoire about five years back when I ran that race. Its simple piano melody and waltz-like tempo seems contradictory to music one listens to to stay 240px-Phenakistoscope_3g07690dpumped in a race.  Yet, when I heard that song, something magical happened: The world slowed down. We were all speeding towards a finish line, but everyone seemed to look like they were moving in slow motion. The people around me seemed to bob up and down like horses on a carousel ride. I looked left, then right, at total strangers, and felt like I was surrounded by loved ones, by family, all moving in unison to the beat of this song. Then, there was a wave of emotion; chills that began in my shoulders scattered in every direction, ending on the top of my bald head with a million tingly strands emanating from my brain. It was such a moment of clarity: “We’re all in the dance!”

On that day, it was a race down Broad Street with tens of thousands of people from as many different experiences as there were bib numbers. But it’s also the dance we do as people in the parade of cars during rush hour traffic, or standing in the checkout line pretending not to read the trashy headlines from the tabloids, or the trips to school one takes beginning as a kindergartner, then one day returning as a parent, then a grandparent. The visits to the hospital, from newborn to old man, the times spent in prayer, in sport, in taking in a play, a game, a concert, an art exhibit. The dance involves the person at the restaurant who serves you the food, taken from the kitchen where many hands prepared it, and the one whose hand you lovingly grasp as you leave the establishment, to the homeless person you pass by guiltily with your belly full and your hand growing heavy with more of your meal in a doggy bag.

Even though the Broad Street was always one of my favorite events, I have moved away from road races. Yesterday, I was training for an upcoming trail race. But the runner’s high is achieved in both situations. And this song is always on my i-Pod come race day. I wait until I’m a mile or two in before I let the words wash over me, always to the same effect. My memory floods every time I hear the ethereal voice of Feist remind us that:

We all go ’round and ’round
Partners are lost and found
Looking for one more chance
All I know is,
We’re all in the dance

Feel the beat; music and rhyme
While there is time.

And that is my wish for you. For all of us. That we may feel the beat; music and rhyme–while there is time.

So, if you ever come across my body lying on a trail somewhere, and there happens to be an embarrassing song playing–think of my children and please advance “Now Playing” to Coldplay, Pearl Jam, Green Day, or The Killers. It’s the least you can do after my nice wish for you:)

Take a moment to listen to this song. And don’t worry if you start swaying–I won’t tell anybody.

 

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17 comments

  1. another great one!! I feel the same exact way when I am running – I don’t like the typical high energy songs. I like the ones that help you relax and think.. Few weeks ago I ran a race in central park (all women)with Cathy and I had some embarrassing slow song on but at one point I looked around and thought how lucky we are all are to be able to run in this beautiful park on such a great day..I
    never heard this song before – bob will be downloading tomorrow!!!

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  2. Ahhh this is a fantastic song isn’t it! It is up there on my favorites list 🙂 It is funny how music can be so monumental in one’s life. I know it is in mine, and I try to take as many opportunities to show my kids all different types of music and what they can offer a person. I love that you wrote a post about this, because sometimes we just need a reminder to enjoy beautiful things, such as the wonder of song!
    Oh ya, and about your opening ‘walkman’ bit…My husband still uses his walkman…Well Discman, but close enough! I have been trying to get him to update, but he refuses to get with the times! 😉 Haha

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    1. I totally agree about the power of music. I love to just have it on in the background while the boys are playing LEGos or whatever. And I mix it up,too: rock, pop, folk, classical. They’ve yet to complain–although they usually request Gangham Style at some point:)

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  3. I love the way you describe your tingling ‘moment of clarity’, and the more I read your blog the more I wish I was a runner! My son says I waddle like a penguin, (true) but I often have a ‘running dream’ where I am able to run and run effortlessly – it feels amazing, as you describe, but then, of course, I wake up! Perhaps I just need the right music….Take care.

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    1. Hi Michele. Don’t get too jealous. Indeed, I have finally been able to embrace/declare myself as a runner, but I look pretty goofy out there, too. Good thing the mind takes over and I don’t give a damn how I look to others:) Hope you are doing well.

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  4. Maybe it is just me, but on the graphic with the dancing couple, if you watch it and see how the woman’s arm just hangs there limp, it almost looks like the man is dancing with a corpse. It is kinda creepy.

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  5. Such great imagery. I had the entire race scene painted in my mind, of everyone slowly bobbing around you in a slow-mo race to the finish line… awesome, thanks for the read!

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  6. As I sit hear listening to this beautiful song I think of a dad running thinking of such things. I still use my disc player and the kids bought me an ipod,but I don’t know how to use it. Everytime I hit a bump on my bike Alan Jackson repeats himself.Go figure!

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  7. The way you write brings so much imagery to mind. I remember the windings of the Schuylkill River, except usually from the expressway. I would have preferred it from your vantage point experiencing a profound moment.

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