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



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。