I Learned This from Gelsey

What I learned by reading Gelsey Kirkland’s book “Dancing On My Grave”:

I learned

some people are as fragile and sensitive as they are determined and driven.

How many of us can say we are committed and focused 100% to hone and master our innate talents whatever they may be-? Not only recognizing our calling but excelling in it?

I learned

everyone, even if they seem successful, all put together and quite balanced emotionally; can have inner doubt, a hellish private life, and fear of failure.

I learned

through Gelsey’s book that Baryshnikov (“Misha” as she called him-Gelsey’s sometime partner) is as multifaceted, flawed and human as the lot of us.

So is Gelsey.

There is strength in body. And then there is strength in spirit. Maybe the stronger you are, the harder your fall. Almost two years ago I aged into a new decade on my journey. I had reason to reflect and doing so, am pleased that I’ve grown and evolved. No one’s ever finished though. I have so far to go. There is a musical term I learned in the book- a word that describes the “link” or smooth connection between the music (in a ballet) and the dance and drama. The word is legato. The opposite I suppose would be… to lack a smooth connection. To be broken up.

From the book this quote about miming:

Schiller spoken on Weimer-onstage 1798:

“hard is this art, it’s praise is transitory;      For mimes, posterity entwined no garlands.     Therefore they must be greedy of the present …      And fill the moment which is theirs, completely…”

I believe that quote can be changed a bit to read:

“hard is this life;    praise for the good we do is transitory;      For most of us, posterity entwines no garlands.       Therefore we all must be greedy of the present      And fill the moment which is all of ours; completely…”

Of course I already knew the adage about living in the moment, life ain’t easy, smell the roses and can’t appreciate the sun until it rains and yada yada. But people from the 1800s, especially when writing poetry, have a way with words don’t they? Being greedy of the present doesn’t come in the same forms for everyone. For some of us, like me, it means appreciating the small things: the pattern in sun dapples, the reflection in puddles, a well worn face. For others, being greedy of the present means instant gratification. I think what Gelsey knew was ” to fill a moment, completely,” in her dance. She put the quote in the book because it resonated with her. I think what she also realized was it’s impossible to maintain legato at ALL times whether we’re talking ballet, or life in general, especially given the sorry state of the world with all its woe, temptations, quick fixes for big problems. There’s bumps, hitches, disconnection. That’s the way it’s supposed to be though.

My favorite songwriter seems to know this. One of his most common themes in songs (besides the circus) is the rain.

In Boston when the sky is raining rain, the sidewalks suddenly reveal hidden poems.

Always my salve is art. Once a poem’s been learned, an art piece enjoyed, a song listened to (my current favorite is “Cake By The Ocean”) or a ballet enjoyed, that is inside us to suddenly appear when the mental climate or global or political one is stormy. Walking in Boston I’m tempted to pour my water on the ground just to see these poems appear.

An example of art in nature below. There are glass beaches in the world. Isn’t that amazing? I am sure I could not walk this beach without smiling nonstop!

From http://www.taoism.net/living/2003/200301.htm this:

One day, while walking through the wilderness, a man encountered a vicious tiger. He ran for his life, and the tiger gave chase.

“The man came to the edge of a cliff, and the tiger was almost upon him. Having no choice, he held on to a vine with both hands and climbed down.

Halfway down the cliff, the man looked up and saw the tiger at the top, baring its fangs. He looked down and saw another tiger at the bottom, waiting for his arrival and roaring at him. He was caught between the two.

Two rats, one white and one black, showed up on the vine above him. As if he didn’t have enough to worry about, they started gnawing on the vine.

He knew that as the rats kept gnawing, they would reach a point when the vine would no longer be able to support his weight. It would break and he would fall. He tried to shoo the rats away, but they kept coming back.

At that moment, he noticed a strawberry growing on the face of the cliff, not far away from him. It looked plump and ripe. Holding onto the vine with one hand and reaching out with the other, he plucked it.

With a tiger above, another below, and two rats continuing to gnaw on his vine, the man tasted the strawberry and found it absolutely delicious.”


I leave you with that thought and this:


unnamed (2)

My grandson first photo. My son (his father) took both these photos. I almost forgot the most important thing I got out of the book. No matter what is getting you, it’s never too late ever to reinvent who you are.


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