To dance is to be out of yourself. Larger, more beautiful, more powerful.
-Agnes De Mille
This week I’m in clean slate/fresh start mode, purging old files and documents. And in the process of digging through my hard drive I’ve unearthed some old newsletters that I wrote in years past.
Yes, back in the day I used to send out a quarterly newsletter, two-sided, on colored paper no less. Every three months my husband and I would meet at the dining room table for a folding, labeling, stamping party. We’d turn up the music and get a groove going. After a few hours we’d be rewarded with a healthy stack of newsletters, all ready to go to the post office. That was our final destination of the evening, and it was always thrilling to feed my little babies into the mouth of the big blue mail box.
As fun as those times were, I’m extremely grateful for the technology that now allows me to share my thoughts immediately, with the press of the “publish” button. In fact, it’s made me wonder – are there blogging business owners who also send out newsletters?
I’ve played with the idea of adding a monthly newsletter, but I’m somewhat baffled about how to differentiate it from my blog. So I’d love to hear from you if you have any clues, or even thoughts on the type of content that would be newsletter-worthy. You can leave a comment here, or email if you’d prefer: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Anyway, back to my main point. I dug up a newsletter I wrote five years ago that seemed to hit a note at the time. That got an unexpected response. So I figured, why not bring it over to my blog? Read on…
SILT SYNDROME – WINTER 2005
Recently I spent a weekend kicking back, catching up with a few movies I’d been meaning to see. One of my selections was Shall We Dance? I’d seen the original and was curious about the remake. In this incarnation of the story Richard Gere plays John Clark, who, according to the film’s synopsis, “has all he could ever ask for, including a successful career and a loving wife. Even so, he can’t find true happiness.”
So he decides to sign up for ballroom dance classes, and by the end of the movie feels a whole lot better about his life. But not before a few missteps, chief among them failing to tell his wife that the reason he’s out so late is because he’s learning to rumba.
Halfway through the movie I realized that Gere was embarrassed to share his growing love of dance because he was suffering from what I call I-Should-Be-Happy-With-What-I’ve-Got Syndrome, also known as Shouldn’t-I-Love-This? (SILT Syndrome, for short). I like the SILT acronym because silt is a sedimentary material that builds up and causes obstructions.
Similarly, when we’re in the grips of SILT syndrome we obstruct our own growth or movement.
How do we know if we’re a casualty of SILT syndrome? We might feel bored, restless, blah. Perhaps we even find ourselves thinking, “is that all there is?” But we compensate for the internal discomfort by telling ourselves one of the following:
- I’m really lucky compared to a lot of other people
- This is the life I used to want so I should still want it
- I have to learn to be content with this because change is just too hard at this point.
And with that we manage to derail the yucky feeling and shut it down. Those words we repeat during a SILT episode are certainly comforting; they console us and keep our world intact, sort of the adult equivalent of making a scraped elbow better by kissing it and moving on. But then we find ourselves needing to kiss that elbow more and more often, and the scrape just isn’t going away, is it?
No wonder Richard Gere was freaking out a bit in the movie.
You may be too, if you’re in the grips of SILT. But you’ll be glad to know that you’re in good company. Millions have gone before, millions will come after. In fact, millions of words have been written about what you’re experiencing. And the wisest words seems to point to this as a time to seriously pay attention to the deeper you – your core, substance, spirit, inner self, soul, marrow, essence – whatever you choose to call it, and truly allow that part of you to live in the world.
In many ways the journey, if you allow yourself to take it, will ultimately bring you home to yourself.
And yes, it might be hard, because, well, because change is hard. But as one of my friends says, it will be “good hard.” And in the words of author James Hollis, “Just when we have achieved a measure of stability, we may be undermined from below and called to a new direction.”
Paying attention to that new direction and taking small steps toward it is one surefire way to conquer SILT syndrome, even if that means taking ballroom dance lessons.
BACK TO PRESENT DAY – WINTER 2010
So what do you think? Ever been sidetracked by SILT?
I’m laughing, at myself, upon realizing that I’m wading through it right now. Do you think that’s why I was moved to reprint this? I’m reminded of that old adage – you teach what you need to learn.
Here’s the deal: As much as I love my home and garden, I’m almost ready to move on. I need to downsize my life and simplify. Reduce my carbon footprint. I don’t need so much space, and I want out of suburbia. I’m longing for a smaller town with a big heart and sense of community. A walkable neighborhood (I’m shooting for a Walk Score over 90), near public transit and within shouting distance of some of my favorite places.
Seems lovely, doesn’t it? And yet, the SILT keeps coming…But look what you’ve created here! But you used to love this! But why shake up your life! But you have it so good!
Then I remember. I can live my life with gusto right now. Enjoy every day that I’m here. Extract as much meaning as I can from it. And when the time comes to move in a year or two, there will be no SILT left to stop me. There will just be me, dancing my way to a larger life.
How about you? Any of this sound familiar? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
WHY NOT START NOW?