It’s my two-year anniversary of discovering one of the bigger passions in my life, tango. I was just in Cali, Colombia, the place where I serendipitously discovered tango, this past week and danced again with my original teachers. So I am fresh with the impression of my “before and after”–I am struck by how much progress I have made in two years. Which leads me to consider how we make progress in life. Making progress in tango has not been a matter of grim work and determination. I’ve made progress because I discovered something that I genuinely love. That’s where we shine the most, where we practice the things we love.
Here is my dance when I started in 2010 (the one isn’t even so bad–there are much more awkward ones that never made it to YouTube!):
And here is a video from this past week in Cali, two years later. I still have miles to go but I have come far:
I am rarely so dedicated to a hobby. I don’t think I even had a hobby before tango. I wanted one.
From the very first moment that I saw tango performed in Cali, Colombia, I fell in love. With the sense of connection between two human beings. The beauty of it. And luckily, I quickly found a teacher, Carlos Paredes, who insisted that tango is all about love. When we dance, he whispers, “Love me, love me.” Not because he is coming on to me (I wish–he’s adorable!) but because he teaches that love is a way to listen to your partner; to love is a way to relax and feel another human being. When we feel love in the dance, we feel a different kind of relaxed bliss. I rarely get that perspective in San Francisco where the classes are more focused on technique. And yet I have only been able to be so consistent in taking classes and practicing because I found something that makes me feel so good, that gives me a high, that has taught me so much about myself on and off the dance floor. I can only be dedicated to things that I really love.
I use tango as a guide for how to live my life in general. For example, I seek to find the same sense of concentration and absorption when I write, or when I am spending time with someone I care about. To love a person is this way is to be relaxed, attentive, and absorbed. I don’t always achieve that, but I use the way I feel in a great tango as a benchmark, as a place to aim. And I can see that anything I do gets better and better when I infuse and polish that thing with love.