Dance to Change the World

I don’t know about you but I’m feeling all happy and inspired, I tend to dance around my room. What I don’t tend to do is dance when the going gets tough. Then, I slouch and mope and generally look as graceful as a rhino as it horn-rams a tree.

What do I know about dance? It frees your soul. If you’re not into that sort of terminology then, scientifically, it releases endorphins and makes you happy. Whichever way you want to slice it, if you want to turn your frown upside down a quick twerk or pas de chat (or a wizard combination of both!) could really help.

However, this is all on a very me-me-me level and what this lady, Mallika Sarabhai, has to say is far more important. Give the video a go. it’s all about how dance can be used to change perceptions and how it could be a key to dramatic world change…

Art can go through where other things can’t. You can’t have barriers, because it breaks through your prejudices, breaks through everything that you have as your mask, that says, “I am this, I am that, I am that.” No. It breaks through those. And it reaches somewhere where other things don’t. And in a world where attitudes are so difficult to change, we need a language that reaches through.

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Being where you are…

Ok, so I am not actually moving. I decided against it. Hear me out, people!

As a grasshopper (aka pre-18yrs) I did a lot of travelling. I have been very fortunate to have generous parents and lots of opportunities to get out there and explore the globe. My previous destinations have included China, Russia, France, Spain, Morocco, Kenya, and on top of that I spent a year in Uganda aged 8.

Since I started uni, I’ve been to The Netherlands twice. Quite a dramatic difference from my previous jet-setting lifestyle. I was used to being out of the country practically every year, and then I hit uni and felt like I had become rather stuck in the mud.

Now feeling stuck is never fun but once I quit being frustrated by the fact that I was an ant on some very familiar trails, I started to look around and over the past four years I have learned a very important truth/skill. You don’t need to leave the country to go on adventures. In fact, you can walk a path a hundred times and notice something new each time. Why? Because things change. At the very least the season is changing, meaning that the same bit of tarmac your foot hits every day is shown in a new light every day and a different shade of colour. Seriously, get your artistic eye out and things become a lot more interesting. There’s a great sequence in The Girl with the Pearl Earring where Johannes asks… what colour the clouds are. She says “white” and then she looks harder and says that they’re yellow and blue and grey. In the same way, pavements are rarely grey. And that weed you see growing out of it? That changes on a daily basis too. I find plants growing fascinating. How did it know how to become what it is? And I’ve studied biology so I know the basics of how cells work… It blows my mind.

Those are very micro examples, and they probably don’t sound like they’re worth me trading a year in Jakarta for. You’re right; often they’re not, but my point is that we often forget to appreciate where we are.

England has actually proven to far more exciting than I ever gave it credit for. There are incredible rock formations in Bristol. We have mountains and castles and forests. I have a freaking nature reserve as my back garden. Oxford, a city that breathes freedom of thought and creativity is MY city. I live here and breathe the same air and walk the same streets as some of the most famous thinkers and writers of my time and times before. I’ve only just begun to scratch the surface here and I am constantly surrounded by beauty.

The nub and gist of what I am trying to say is that world travel is a fetish of the Western world. Don’t get me wrong, that doesn’t make it bad; there are a million benefits that travelling can do for your perspective and your soul. But the constant commercial drive to travel can lead people to disregard what is around them, believing that adventure and beauty lies only across the sea and in the streets of other cities.

And this isn’t the sole reason for me not going. It’s also to do with what I want to achieve with the next few years of my life. Unfortunately, living in Jakarta just doesn’t fit that. But I felt the “being where you are” thoughts we worth sharing.

You are never stuck. Wherever you stand on the planet is an incredible place.