“You’ve gotta’ dance like there’s nobody watching,
Love like you’ll never be hurt,
Sing like there’s nobody listening,
And live like it’s heaven on earth.
(And speak from the heart to be heard.)”
-William W. Purkey
It’s a great quote, harmonious and heartwarming. We see it everywhere, from bumper stickers and magnets to daily affirmation post-its that your roommate (or “roommate” if you live alone) have all over the apartment. It’s easy to agree with andbrilliantly translates self-actualization into a nice, neat package. So why can’t most of us follow through with it? Well, most of us do live like this…we’re just not any good at it yet. Though the concepts seem simple enough, subjective interpretations often result in the “what the hell was I/he/she thinking?!” reflections, days or years later.
We all have “that friend” that loves to dance to any music genre, but they’re rhythmically deficient. All the power to them, they’ve got it right…unless they decide to dance up on you or a stranger. Then we want them to start dancing like everyone else IS watching in hopes that they’ll stop hip-thrusting and gettin’ low to Celine Dion. The fact that you’re all at a party or club that’s rocking out to Celine Dion is disturbing enough, so being associatedwith Ravishing Rick Rude throws salt on the wound. Hit a club in Vegas on any given night and you’ll see plenty of people dancing like no one’s watching. They’re somewhat closer to the true practice of the quote, but it’s also because they’re inebriated or high (or both). They’ll freely grope and grind on anything that wanders into their dancing perimeter, and if it’s the bouncer or a girl with a UFC-fighter boyfriend, it’s better if they acknowledge that someone is watching.
Karaoke bars have large margins for error for our purpose here. If you karaoke with friends, there will always be the guy/girl that tries too hard to sing well. They’re posturing, it’s a power move, but often times they’re terrible singers. When someone is not a good singer but believes that they are, it’s painful for the innocent bystanders. Seriously, you’re not wearing an earpiece, stop covering your ear…it’ll allow you to hear just how shrill your songbird pipes are (PSA: parents or future ones, heed this advice: If your kid sucks at singing, be honest with them rather than let them grow up with a delusional state of reality). On the other hand, karaoke-ing byyourself is too strange. Besides, you need witnesses for your 99% score on A Whole New World, right?? Your best bet is settle for duets or group songs. It’s fun for everyone and no one takes it seriously, mostly because they can’t.
Lastly, we have this “love” thing that we all manage to misunderstand or misinterpret, mostly for our own self-preservation. No one wants the pain of heartbreak. It’s a reality that builds resilience and identifies what’s truly important to us, but it truly sucks donkey dong. So we choose to put limitations on how much we’re willing to love someone (or ourselves) in order to manage our vulnerabilities, not allowing ourselves to be hurt. It’s the safer approach, but it’s also a finite one. Having a known capacity to love drains away much of the romanticism that intrigues and inspires us. There are plenty that take this approach, so it’s the harsh truth that we won’t always get what we’re willing to give. But we can choose to believe that someday we will. And that will be a great day.