Ever have one of those uncomfortably humbling moments that knocks you in the gut? Totally blows the wind right out of you?
Here's four of them, awkward and fabulous:
1) I was working at an orphanage in Haiti where my team spent a long, hot day trying to pry very personal information out of shy and malnourished Haitian tweens. After clinic was over, someone had gotten word that I danced, and urged me to teach some of our patients. We traded -- they would show me their moves and I would show them mine, no translators necessary. Within minutes of this little bantering back and forth their eyes completely lit up, topped with smiles on their starving faces. Their entire attitude had absolutely shifted, and I earned more of their trust in those 30 minutes of dancing than I did in an entire day of clinic.
2) To expand my boundaries, I showed up to a Broadway audition. In my defense, it was an open call for dancers. But damnit, Sarah, read the script. I arrived in warm-ups, hair neatly tucked in a bun. Everyone else was in super sultry business attire, push-up bras and lipstick included. Holy hotdog. I instantly heard this young woman belting out "Memories," powerful enough to stop me in my tracks. As she walked out of the tiny audition space I couldn't help but notice how absolutely gorgeous she was. To my surprise, when we got in the elevator she looked over and said "I was so nervous!" as she started wiping the sweat that was literally dripping down her arms. WHAT?!?! I was dumbfounded. No doubt in my mind she is currently in rehearsal for that show. Crazy though, it turns out that even superstars get flustered.
3) The guy next to me on one of my flights recently was horrendously late. He arrived all sweaty, took up most of my space, and was ferociously writing everywhere. Any tiny little corner of paper he could find he wrote illegible squiggles and dots. He did this for hours, constantly elbowing/bumping me awake. As we landed I asked him (for the love of- ) what he was up to. Turns out he's a ridiculously funny stand-up comedian, one of the sweetest people I have ever met, and also on the way to his dad's funeral. You just never know where people are coming from.
4) I met an absurdly talented musician at the launch of an organization call Athletes and the Arts (check it out!). No really though, he's a genius -- learned the music to my classical variations BY EAR IN LESS THAN AN HOUR. After rehearsing all afternoon we performed together that night, just hours after we met. We went out after the show, and I was telling him about my long-term commitment to serving the impoverished. "Wow," he said, "that's so human." Eh, I thought, to me it seems like something we should all dedicate some time to. Especially if we are lucky enough to pursue what we love. We've kept in touch a bit, and it turns out that as he tours nationally and internationally, he puts together these "love riots" where he just starts playing, gathers an enormous crowd, and somehow creates these beautiful scenes of unity and compassion. His goal? Simply to spread the love. He even did this before his sold-out show at Carnegie Hall.
No Jon, that's human.
Sarah is a professional dancer who writes a blog at sarahdraugelis.wordpress.com.