“Grr! Ugh!” More noises of frustration slipped through my lips as I continued my rumba walks. These walks, like its Cuban motion counterpart, were something I had repeated meticulously whenever I had the chance. Up and down the long walls every practice. I thought it had gotten better, but DP’s constant corrections increased my doubts. A little adjustment there. A sound indicating erroneous movement. A tweak of my standing leg. Where in bleep had all the progress gone?! I knew I could never reach perfection, but did it have to seem so Sisyphean? I was crying internally from exasperation. To make matters worse, those tears were threatening to spill outwardly. (I hate crying in front of people.) DP noticed and took me aside for a pep talk.
I tilted my head downward. I wasn’t looking him in the eye, nor did I desire any contact, an old childhood habit rearing its ugly head in that moment. I’d heard it all before: “You’re getting frustrated too easily,” or “You’re being too hard on yourself.” No bleep, Sherlock. Then, DP said something that broke through my stubborn, selective hearing. He used to be just like me.
I met his eyes then: “Really?” I sniffed, hastily wiping away my tears. His easygoing, affable nature was gone. His seriousness attested to what he was telling me. My talented, more-patient-than-me teacher used to act this childishly? I’d seen his impatient, less-than-sterling side before, but I found it hard to believe he got frustrated when things didn’t go his way the first time around. “I used to get so angry that I would storm off the floor,” he confirmed. Whoa! Really? I pictured in my head a much younger DP, full of fire and passion, stomping away from the competition prematurely, his eyebrows bent and face twisted into an angry snarl.
I could see it. That fire and passion was still there in the man currently giving the pep talk. It had just been tempered by years of experience. I knew Tommy and I had enough in common. That’s why I enjoyed his teaching so much, as harsh as it could be. I had no idea that we were like two similar flames in a large bonfire, one older than the other. Like, wow.
“You have to just have fun with it,” he reminded. “Once I started to relax and just have fun with it, that’s when I started to win those competitions. I know you’re not competing yet, but you’re reaction to not getting these rumba walks is the same thing as me storming off the floor.” I nodded my head. How could I become that dancer when I was borderline throwing tantrums? I know you’re harsh on me because you love me, Tommy. But, I really appreciated this gentle, down-to-earth reminder all those lessons ago. Thank you.
P.S.: *timorously emerges from behind concrete wall in fire suit, hands go up in gesture of surrender* Okay, I know it’s been over a month since I posted. It’s my fault, okay? But, this is my graduating semester of college. I’m taking extra hours to graduate on time. Also, I’m gearing up my resume and LinkedIn profile for future employers. Please try to understand how busy this period of my life is. I’ll try to post something this Monday (April 27th), but I can’t make any promises.