Quick, Be Here Now

11/17/2011 09:02 am ET

No sooner had I finished writing a book called Quick, Before the Music Stops than I found myself in the earliest stages of a long distance relationship with a man who kept saying, "Let's take things slow." Geez, okay. But because I have an impulsive streak, I was frustrated, and I kept thinking we already had the geographic space between us--we were supposed to also let the time dimension thwart what could be true love?

Hmm, I wondered, which is the "right" attitude in these days of Eckhart Tolle and The Power of Now? Seize the day or allow the passage of time? Lately, at fifty-three, I'm feeling a bit more like seizing the day, the year, the moment, because, despite all the expensive skin creams I use, I don't seem to be getting any younger. In fact, I'm counting the crow's feet like rings on a tree trunk. And yet, taking things slow has a certain mature wisdom to it, I have to admit. When I wasn't busy calculating ways for the man and me to meet midway somewhere along the three-hour drive between us on non-soccer weekends, I admired the discipline and respect implied in his going slow.

But if I take things too slow, I thought, I'll be dead before romance strikes again, or at least in menopause and cranky.

So one day last week, sitting on my recumbent stationary bike going nowhere fast, I was talking on the phone with my best friend about what the word "quick" means in my book's title. Initially, I meant that life is short, so you've got to quit gabbing on the sidelines, get out on the floor and dance, before the music stops. Because the music will stop one day. But "quick," I came to see, also means alive, and this connotation perfectly suits a memoir about a woman rejuvenated at midlife through ballroom dancing.

The power of dancing for me is that it invites me to put into practice the precepts I'd otherwise be content to merely noodle over in my busy little mind. We can all talk about being in the moment; the thing is, how are we actually going to live that way? Dancing asks us to hear the music and be present in our bodies, creating something beautiful not a few minutes ago, not sometime soon, but now, in this measure of the music, quick and joyfully. And yet, not with haste. Haste would propel us too fast and too far into the future, ahead of the music, off the beat.

The trick is to know when to be take-charge quick about things and when to sit back and let time pass. The trick is to be able to discern which attitude suits a given moment. I have no answers, but I'm pretty sure it's good to spot these forks in the road.

Speaking of the road, I'm a reluctant traveler. Hate to confess that -- it's so unsexy -- but I'm one of those people who get anxious before departing on a trip, especially one involving air travel, which, let's face it, is horrendously difficult if you like traveling, and a nightmare for the rest of us. Before my daughters and I flew off to France last month, I tried to describe to my friend what a nervous-nelly homebody I am, despite being an experienced traveler: "It's so stupid; I feel like I have to tie up all the loose ends before I go -- not only drop off the dry cleaning, pay all the bills, and organize the pantry shelves, but also wash the rabbit hutch and decide if I'm going to marry Michael."

I should explain that he's the new man I'm dating. (The other guy missed his chance!)

Things got off to an alarmingly, delightfully quick start for Michael and me. We knew each other exactly twenty days before this France trip--kind of premature for deciding about marriage, especially considering we hadn't even spent a whole weekend together yet, but the question of compatibility was weighing heavy on my mind, as if I should know him before going through the process of getting to know him. Allowing the passage of time.

Life may be short, but, thank goodness, life is also long. My daughters and I made it home safe from France, whereupon, after greeting the rabbits and the dogs, we dispersed to settle in and I found myself in my living room humming "Que sera, sera." No need to know just yet.