Chapter 26 That first dance

第二十六章 第一支舞


26. That first dance

Did consciousness come to you like a sudden bolt from the heavens or did it ebb in like a rising tide? In my case, it slowly lapped at my feet, its cool water slowly awakening me. My first distinct image was when I was two years old: I had somehow mired my pedal car in what appeared to be an enormous lake of mud and was afraid to exit the vehicle, and step into the abyss.

I imagined the murky water surrounding my tiny machine to be tens of meters deep and filled with exotic and carnivorous fish, and other marine creatures: foreboding. Not wanting to swim to the distant shore, I rocked my little metal steed back and forth, back and forth: all to no avail. What to do, what to do? In a young person, time and hunger are twins. The day began to diminish, and the call of my mother’s cooking overwhelming. I opened the door and tentatively stepped out. Suddenly I was like Christ walking on water.

My imaginary Sea of Galilee1 had only just covered the ground: my creation was an illusion. “But unless we are creators we are not fully alive. What do I mean by creators? Not only artists, whose acts of creation are the obvious ones of working with paint or clay or words. Creativity is a way of living life, no matter our vocation or how we earn our living. Creativity is not limited to the arts, or having some kind of important career.”2 Thus I had learned my most valuable lesson of life: imagination is everything!

The second dramatic image that came to me was one of total perplexity. I grew up in a time that there was very little contact between boys and girls. You went to school with “them” but they were clannish and distant. As an adolescent, I knew that girls were unique and different than we were. How I wasn’t quite sure: but dissimilar they were!

Mothers, of course, occupied a totally different sphere. They weren’t girls. They were something else – well, mothers. So here you had this curious dilemma. Both were girls, but mothers were detached and sacrosanct. I was impressed that even my father “softened” around my mother.

Once entering a cathedral, I walked in front of this good lady. My father gently, but quite firmly, seized my shoulder and pulled me back behind my mother – allowing her to enter the church first. I never forgot this moment. To this day I have this ingrained sense of deference towards women. Then Grade Eight came upon us: this was the year of great changes – both psychologically and physically. My colleagues began to have girlfriends. I had no idea what was really going on, being a “late bloomer.”3 That being said the hunt was obviously on to secure a relationship. How do you even begin? My friend whispered to me with that tone of authority that conveys the truth. “The next time there is a dance; ask your chosen for a slow dance!” This seemed easy enough! The next time there was a school dance, I did ask a sweet young maiden for a dance.

Now, I had never “touched” another female human being in my life other than my mother and our circle of immediate friends – aunts, cousins and the like. When I danced with this young girl, I experienced sensations that I had never received before. At the end of the dance, I was totally speechless and could only mumble – and I mean mumble – a few nondescript words of thanks.

I felt very uncomfortable, excused myself and went home. I needed to return to somewhere that provided a semblance of familiarity – my sanctuary. My father was a good man, but a serious man. He could sense something untoward. “Where were you?” he queried. “I was at a school dance,” giving my reply the necessary neutrality. “Did you dance?” he asked rather innocently. “Yes,” I replied and began to cry.

At over sixty years old I still don’t know why? Needless to say: dances were forbidden for the foreseeable future. When the “smoke cleared,” I was too late to secure a girlfriend in high school. I subsequently learned my second most valuable lesson of life: you must learn to break down all solipsistic walls if you want to have real contact with anyone: including girls.

The great developmental psychologist Jean Piaget (1896-1980) has a grand thought: “The principal goal of education in the schools should be creating men and women who are capable of doing new things, not simply repeating what other generations have done; men and women who are creative, inventive and discoverers, who can be critical and verify, and not accept, everything they are offered.”

26. 第一支舞

你覺得意識是如同閃電一樣突然出現在天空中?或者像海水漲潮慢慢地湧進來?以我個人的例子來說,意識有如水緩緩地圍繞著我的腳,涼快的水慢慢地將我喚醒。還記得我兩歲時的第一個清晰的印象,不知怎麼地我的學步車困在當時看起來很大的泥湖中,我很害怕離開那學步車而陷入深淵。

在我的想像之中,那些包圍著我學步車的混濁泥水深達數十公尺,其中還充滿了奇特的食人魚與其他的海洋生物,這是不祥的預兆。我不想游到那遙遠的岸邊,只好來來回回地搖晃我的學步車,但一切都無濟於事。我該怎麼辦?我該怎麼做呢?對小孩來說,時間和飢餓是密不可分的,天色漸晚,媽媽烹飪的食物勢不可擋地呼喚著我。我打開學步車的門,小心翼翼地走了出去。頓時我就像基督在水上行走一樣。

我想像中的加利利海1 只有淹過地表那麼淺,我的想像是一場幻覺。「但除非我們成為創造者,否則我們就沒有真正活著。我所謂的創作者是什麼意思呢?創作者不僅侷限於藝術家,也就是很明顯使用顏料、黏土或是文字創作的人。創造力是一種生活方式,無論我們的職業是什麼,或者用什麼方式謀生。創造力不僅限於藝術,還是某些特定重要職業。」2我因而學到了關於生命最有價值的一課:想像力即一切!

我想起第二個令我感到十分困惑的戲劇畫面。我成長的那個年代,男孩和女孩之間少有接觸。雖然你和「她們」上同一所學校,但她們自成一個集團,跟我們很疏遠。當時身為青少年的我知道女孩子是很獨特的,跟男生很不同。雖然我不太確定到底是哪裡不一樣,但她們就是不同!

當然母親的角色是完全不一樣的,她們不是女孩。她們是另外一種......,好吧,媽媽們。因此,你的處境很奇怪。明明兩者都是女性,但母親卻是超然且不可侵犯的。令我印象深刻的是,即便是我父親,他在我母親的身邊似乎也變得溫和了。

有次走進教堂,我走在我母親的前面。我的父親溫和但是卻非常堅定地抓住我的肩膀,把我拉回母親身後,禮讓母親先進入教堂。我永遠不會忘記這一刻。直到今天,這種對女性的敬重依然根深蒂固存在我心裡。進入八年級時有很大的變化,無論是心理上還是身體上。我的同學開始交女朋友了,當時的我並不知道究竟發生了什麼事,我顯然是個「大器晚成」3的傢伙。即便如此,我已經想追尋一段愛情,但應該要怎麼開始呢?我的朋友用傳達真理那種權威的語氣低聲告訴我:「下一次有舞會時,邀請你心儀的對象跳一支慢舞!」這聽起來似乎夠簡單的了!後來學校有舞會時,我確實邀請了一位甜美的年輕女子跳一支舞。

在我的生命中,除了我母親和我們的親密朋友圈,如姑姑、阿姨或表姐妹之類的人以外,我從來沒有「碰」過其他女性。當我和這位年輕女孩跳舞時,我體驗了以前從未經歷過的感受。在舞會結束時,我完全說不出話來,只是咕噥說些含糊難辨的感謝話。

我覺得很不自在,找了個藉口就回家了。我需要回到比較熟悉的地方—我的避風港。我的父親是個好人,但他很嚴肅。他能感受到有些不對勁。「你剛才去了哪裡?」他問道。 「我去了學校的舞會,」我用必要的中立語氣來回答。「你跳舞了嗎?」他單純地問。「跳了,」我回答後就開始哭了起來。

過了六十歲的這個年紀,我還是想不透為什麼當時會有那種感受。不消說,在可預見的未來,我被禁止參加舞會。當禁令解除時,我已經來不及在高中時找到女朋友。後來我學到了我生命中第二個寶貴的教訓是:如果你想與任何人有真正的交流,包括女孩在內,你必須先學會打破所有自我主義的壁壘。

偉大的發展心理學家尚‧皮亞傑(1896-1980)曾提出一個偉大的想法:「學校教育的主要目標應該是培養出能夠嘗試新事物的人,而不是只會重複前幾代人所做的事情。他們必須是具有創造力與發明力的探索者,並擁有批判與驗證的能力,而不是被動地接受這世界所提供的一切。」