On Day 243 I went home, to Columbia, South Carolina, and met my mom and my friend Courtney, to watch a performance by the dance company UNBOUND. Our friend Caroline is one of the company's artistic directors.
Caroline and I have known each other since we were younger, and she is easily the most talented dancer that I actually know. She lights up a stage and even when surrounded by other dancers, sometimes she's the only one I actually ever pay attention to. My mom says she does the same and we're not sure if the reason she's the one we always watch is because she's the only that we know, or if she really is a stand out even among people equally as talented as her. Regardless, Caroline is a star.
After returning to South Carolina from New York where she was pursuing dance for several years, Caroline choreographed and performed a one-woman show about the loss of her mother and her life currently without her called, "Finding My Way."
The performance was moving in ways I never could've imagined. I think I cried from the time it started until the moment it ended. I knew Caroline's mom, who was amazing, and I'm sure that's why I was so touched, but more than that, I was in awe of Caroline's ability to convey her feelings for her mother, and her tremendous loss, through her movement on stage.
Day 243's thing I've never done before was to see Caroline, and UNBOUND, and their show, "Divine Art of Survival." Though I was excited to see the company, that had been receiving rave reviews since its inaugural show, I knew I was facing another emotional evening.
I knew I'd likely leave the theater with my nose red and makeup streaked all over my face. But sometimes a good cry makes me feel good. It's why, I suppose, I have an arsenal of sad songs on my iPod and why I'll stop channel surfing to catch the end of My Life, Beaches, or When a Man Loves a Woman. Why do we women do this to ourselves?
The description of the show alone was moving: UNBOUND dance company is celebrating the power of the human spirit with survival stories of men and women in Columbia. Each dance was a story, most coinciding with a real-life story of a person overcoming obstacles like domestic abuse, Alzheimer's disease, the lesser-known Friedreich’s Ataxia in their lives. The people are real, their stories are heart-wrenching, all evoking emotions of pain, confusion, anger, sadness, hope, strength, relief, and love. These emotions are not mutually exclusive within the context of the challenges they face, and UNBOUND brought them all to life.
As expected, UNBOUND blew me away, and it wasn't long before their performances moved me to tears. But as I watched Caroline and her fellow dancers move across the floor with grace and power, it occurred to me that I wasn't just watching a beautifully danced interpretation of life and loss, but I'm also watching Caroline do exactly what it is that God intended for her to do.
I've heard many times that the key to finding happiness and being successful is, simply, "Finding something that you love to do and make a living out of it."
Caroline really did that, and the joy was apparent all over her face.
I know that I have other friends who have, at our young ages, who have also discovered their career destinies and are thriving at careers that best suit them. And if asked to pay admission to watch them at work, I'd probably see the same look on Emily's face teaching high school and Ashley's face taking pictures that I saw on Caroline's that night.
“Hmmm . . .,” I thought to myself later that night, “What do I love to do?”
Dance. Eat. Travel.
All fabulous ways to make a living, no doubt about it. But I live in reality. And the only kind of dancing anyone would pay me for would likely involve a pole, and even that might be a stretch (no pun intended), and as far as I know the people who make a living out of eating do so by stuffing soggy hot dogs and buns down their throats at eating competitions. No chance. And I’ve traveled to a lot of places, but traveling has yet to contribute to my bank account, it usually only sucks it dry. Crap.
What a gift that what brings Caroline joy is also how she is making a living.
I'm so proud of her, which is probably weird because I have had absolutely nothing to do with her success. I'm also admittedly a little jealous of her too. Not just because she's beautiful and sweet and talented beyond even reality, but that she has already identified exactly what it is that she should be when she grows up. And she’s kicking ass at it.
I remain on the search for what it is that I am truly passionate about, and really good at. Frustrating, yes, that at 29 I still haven't discovered it, but I think I might be getting closer. And lucky for me, I’m still having a good time trying all of the "not exactly right" things along the way.
I think I speak for the city of Columbia, too, when I say a huge thanks is owed to Caroline for bringing her extraordinary talent back to the city and giving dancers there an opportunity to make a living by entertaining us all. If you have not done so already, I urge you to check out UNBOUND.