Surrendering the Lead

Several years ago, as I was swing dancing with a very dear friend, he suddenly stopped, looked at me, and said, “Who’s leading this dance — you or me?”

I started to protest, realized he was right, laughed, then let him lead. It’s a bad habit. I set my sights on a goal and then go for it. More than once my tenaciousness has been likened to a bull in a china shop. I don’t intentionally mean to be so focused, it just happens. Remember that annoying girl in high school who just did the group projects because she felt she could do it better than anyone else? The one who felt it would just waste time to explain it to the other members of the group? Yeah. That was me. Sad, but true.

I’d like to think that I’ve mellowed since then. That I consistently value the contributions of others. And graciously realize that I’m not always right. I’d like to think.

I was out swing dancing again last night. My partner tried to turn me in a way I wasn’t expecting to be turned. I started to protest, then realized this was his dance. He was leading. I relaxed my body, keeping just enough tension in my arms for him to be able to guide me, turn me, twirl me. I readjusted my expectations to be completely open to his dance, to his lead. He led me across the floor, pulling me close then spinning me out. I could feel laughter bubbling up inside me, a byproduct of pure joy that comes from doing something you love. As the music ended, he dipped me and the laughter spilled out in waves. A simple reminder that every now and then you have to trust someone else to take the lead.

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