Bright Side of the Road. That’s the title of one of my favorite Van Morrison songs that I enjoy dancing to at the Sunday Night Swing Dance. Sometimes I’m fortunate to have William as my partner. He’s from Belfast, Ireland and remembers seeing Van Morrison performing in the local clubs before he was famous. While the song is about a relationship, I give my own meaning to the first two lines that play over in my head: “From the dark end of the street To the bright side of the road.”
Sometimes it’s easier to stay on the dark end of the street. We can navigate familiar paths on autopilot without having to think about where we’re going, without having to watch for the forks in the road. That is until we’re forced to change because that old route doesn’t serve us anymore. Something shifts within us and we want to travel in a different way. We can be so afraid of the discomfort of a new route that we stay on that dark side of the road. This reminds me, again, of swing dancing.
Initially, my husband and I, along with another couple, visited the Sunday Night Swing Dance. While the people there ‘danced around’ changing partners, we just danced with our spouses. That night when we left, I commented that the regulars seemed like a friendly group, and I thought it would be fun to be part of that community. But my husband and the other couple didn’t agree because they didn’t like changing partners. For a while, I let it rest, but I kept seeing the image of the people dancing that night, how much fun they were having. In retrospect, I felt the energy pull toward dancing that I talked about in my last post, Follow Your Energy.
Most of the times we’d gone dancing, it was because I’d initiated it by asking for lessons for a Christmas present and giving us ballroom classes for our anniversary. While my husband was a good dancer, that wasn’t what he wanted to do. I’d convinced myself that we were alike in that interest, but after our night at the Swing Dance, I saw that we weren’t. I wasn’t ready to let go of my desire to be part of that community, so I approached it from a different angle. I took classes with one of the owners of the dance company that hosted the event.
It was a risk-free way to check out the group to see if they were as amiable as they seemed. Eventually, I got to know some people in my class and they urged me to join them on Sunday night. I’d never been to a dance alone and felt weird going without my husband, even though I knew others came without their spouses. But with my husband’s blessing, I drove myself to the Sunday Night Swing Dance. At first, it was awkward, waiting for someone to ask for a dance, knowing only a few people to talk with.
But I stuck with it. I kept pushing past my uncomfortable feelings, making one new friend at a time, learning names of my partners, smiling when I made errors in following the lead. Eventually, I was able to relax and laugh and dance just like the others that I’d envied the first time I visited.
Now, when I dance to “Bright Side of the Road,” I feel happy that I took the risk and crossed “from the dark end of the street,” refusing to stay in the shadows and learning to dance with confidence under the mirrored ball.
How about you?
Are there areas you’re drawn to but afraid of because they’re unfamiliar?
What would help you move out of the comfort of a familiar path through the discomfort of the unknown road in order to reach the destination you desire?