Life is a dance— you know the song: “Life’s a dance you learn as you go…
Sometimes you lead, sometimes you follow
Don’t worry about what you don’t know
Life’s a dance you learn as you go…
That’s cute. Do you believe it?
I know dancing is a popular metaphor for life, and I am sure there are folks out there that live that metaphor. I can image the music—maybe it is country or classical music, or maybe even a waltz. The dancer is limber, agile, graceful; and I imagine the music almost illuminates the way the dancer should live.
Maybe it might just be the crowd I hang with, but I’m not sure this is the experience many of us have. For anyone who has tried to do something difficult where there is competition, adversity, obstacles, or perhaps even a nemesis—the dancing metaphor just seems insufficient. The last time I was at a dance, nobody got up on the dance floor and tried to tackle the dancers. The dancer never got choked out by a rival.
Marcus Aurelius once pontificated: “The art of living is more like wrestling than dancing, because an artful life requires being prepared to meet and withstand sudden and unexpected attacks.”
The wrestler knows adversity and understands the unexpected is simply part of what they do. Their sport is a battle, just like life. They are fighting an opponent as well as their own limitations, emotions, and training.
Life, like wrestling, requires more than graceful movement. Further, we have to undergo hard training and cultivate an indomitable will to prevail. According to Aurelius, philosophy is the steel against which we sharpen that will and strengthen our resolve.
Just a simple question—do you feel like you are on a dance floor or are you in the ring?