Recently a new friend I met at my yoga class invited me to attend a tango dance class with her and her husband. I thanked her but felt I would decline. While I love to dance, I didn’t really feel that tango would be my thing. Also, I did not have a partner to accompany me and I wasn’t sure what to expect. Besides, it was cold out, and it would be dark and even colder that evening when the class was scheduled. I put it out of my mind and went about my business for the day. As the hour for the class approached, I thought more about reconsidering. After all, I’d swung across the Costa Rican jungle on a zip line; I swam with sharks, giant turtles, and stingrays in Bora Bora; and I braved the mosquito and snake infested Amazon. What could be so challenging about a little tango? When opportunity knocks, I usually open the door. What do you do? Do you fear what is on the other side? I was just wondering………………
The instructors were the real deal, all the way from Argentina! We spent about the first 20 minutes just listening to their explanation of the dance. As I scoped out the room, I was surprised to see there were as many men in attendance as women and there seemed to be very few people paired up like my friends. This was comforting, as I was not the only solo in the group. Following the warm-up talk, we were told to find a partner and then we were instructed how to position our feet. It seemed I was back in ballet class, except it wasn’t first, second, third, or fourth position, but duck feet position! Yes, heels together and toes pointing out and away from one another, creating a V. In this position, we had to practice “waddling” backwards. At least that is what it felt like! Waddling! Without falling, that is! Seriously! After a little practice at this, we were told to get into hold with our partners, hands on shoulders of one another, and then together to move with our duck feet! For the women, this meant being pushed backwards while the male “lead” had the more convenient forward duck walk position. I can assure you I never envisioned tango as a duck walk! So, we did a bit of practice while switching partners several times. Each partner was very polite, introduced himself, and appeared equally unsure of himself. Then a man with icy blue eyes approached me, grabbed my shoulders, quickly took command and began rapidly and assuredly pushing me backwards. I noticed he had an accent and I was going to ask where he was from, but he was all business. No smile, no friendly handshake, no name! I began to sweat (something I almost NEVER do), as I stumbled backward, trying desperately to keep apace! Then his mouth opened as he commanded me to stop wiggling my butt! Next, he ordered me to stand very straight, like I was tied to a post! Now with duck feet, I was being pushed backwards rapidly while pretending I was tied to a tree! OMG! This was much more frightening than the zip line! And this guy was definitely not someone I wanted to meet in a back alley! While he was quite good looking, those icy eyes and cold demeanor just had a way of turning me into jelly, and I don’t mean the lustful kind, but jelly like when you feel too helpless to save yourself!
When this practice period thankfully ended, I rushed back to my friend for comfort and to share with her my unsettling experience. As I described the guy, her eyes widened and she gasped, “Oh, you mean the Russian!?” Well that explained it! He must still be mentally living in the “cold war” or else he just had to be a Russian spy! My friend went on to explain that he has actually been an instructor as well. He is definitely not one I would voluntarily sign up for!
So, back to the question at hand. As I previously stated, I generally respond when opportunities present themselves to me. You are probably giving yourself ammunition not to answer that knock by assuming that I regret having opened this door, that I never should have gone, that it was a wasted, uncomfortable experience. Wrong! I welcome it all. How do you ever learn if you don’t experience? In fact, the very best education in life is experiential. When you actually participate in something, you retain a fuller learning experience and you also tend not to forget it. You also learn what you like and what you don’t like. For instance, I like to dance, but tango is probably not my forte, but I would never really know that if I hadn’t tried it. I suspect that my tendency to wiggle may be more conducive to salsa. On the other hand, sometimes we reject things that we really don’t know enough about or understand, which, if given an opportunity to experience, may result in a different outcome. Besides the experience itself that you may question, you will have the opportunity to meet new people, make new connections, and open the door for even more opportunities! Try things! Experience life to the fullest! It is the only way you will really know what you like instead of imagining what you may or may not enjoy. It is also the best way to make discoveries about yourself!
As for me, I not only learned first-hand about tango, I met a Russian with icy blue eyes, I met some other very pleasant people, and I learned I don’t really want to pursue more tango. But best of all, I had an experience that is unforgettable, and now I have a funny story to tell! I am glad I opened that door. What about you? What will you do the next time opportunity knocks? Will you try something new or will you have a lot of excuses? Will you overcome a fear? Will you open that door? I was just wondering…………….