Saturday, October 15, 2011

Chronicles of the Tango Therapist

The Keyhole into the Universe
[Tango fiction]
Thekeyhole into the Universe

Once long ago but in a time very much like ours there was a milonga in Bucharest...

Romania had a small butlively tango community.  No one recognized the stranger when he came through the door.  He wore black and he had a air about him that made him seem like an experienced tanguero.  The regulars whispered toeach other about him as he sat down and observed the dancers.  A few tangueros approached and welcomed him,but nearly everyone figured that he was just watching and did not dance at all. 
After about five tandas,he approached Margareta.  He asked her what her name was as they stoodwaiting for the music to start with an accent that was clearly not Romanian. She told him that her traditional Romanian name, Margareta, meant"pearl."
"That seems to fit your soulvery well," he replied, looking into her eyes.  "I knew a girl whose name was Pearl. She had a very deep and precious soul.  Although she had beenseverely abused as a child in an orphanage, she grew up to be the kindestperson I have ever met.  Pearl had the ability to do what most of uscannot:  She saw the universe through a keyhole.  She found littlepieces of evidence of kindness and goodness in the world through the littlekeyhole to the universe, and it these bits of goodness shaped who she was. Many of us focus on a few negative things in the world and we then cannotsee the beauty all around us.  She found the beauty just throughsmall glimpses of the divine."

Pearl's eye view
"That seems to fit your soul very well," he replied.  "I knew a girl whose name was Pearl.  She had a very deep and precious soul.  Although she had been severely abused as a child in an orphanage, she grew up to be the kindest person I have ever met.  Pearl had the ability to do what most of us cannot:  She saw the universe through a keyhole.  She found little pieces of evidence of kindness and goodness in the world through the little keyhole to the universe, and it these bits of goodness shaped who she was.  Many of us focus on a few negative things in the world and we then cannot see the beauty all around us.  She found the beauty just through small glimpses of the divine."

The music continued.  As she began to dance with the stranger, every pause and every impulse was as if they embodied the music.  The left-right pulse of his tango walk seemed to pull her into a world in which she could see her life going before her.

She returned to the orphanage where she had lived until she turned seven years old.  She saw the terrible things that had happened there but for the first time she remembered these events as if she were an outside observer.  She watched in deep compassion for the orphaned child as if she was totally removed from the experience, except for her compassion for the child.  The music stopped.

Before the second song of the tanda began, the stranger went on with the story:  "One day Pearl looked through the keyhole to the universe and saw all the moments of kindness she had ever experienced, most of which she had forgotten.  It filled her soul with the resolve to be the kindness she saw.  At that moment she joined Plato in his understanding that the world is but a shadow of the real and eternal.  She chose at that moment to find real and eternal beauty and goodness and bring these to fruition into this world."  The music started again.

The next tango was the one that meant the most to her.  She had fallen in love with the person with whom she first danced it some two years earlier.  Poema represented  both beauty and loss to her.  But the stranger’s steady tango walk again brought her back to the "keyhole" the he had just mentioned, and she imagined herself now looking through it.

This time she saw herself as an adult looking back at the child in the keyhole.  She felt a deep empathy for the child.  Strangely, she then switched to being the child, looking through the keyhole at the adult Margareta as a kind and compassionate person.  Just as her adult self seemed to be coming to the door to open it, the music stopped.  The man continued yet another part of the story.

"Pearl grew up to become an incredible woman.  Her compassion to others had no boundaries of nations or races or religions.  She was kind.  She carried an aura of kindness.  It was simple and powerful at the same time."  The music started yet again, the third song of the tanda.

This time his pause before taking his first step felt as if energy was building.  It was more than just standing there:  It was as if their first step was going to explode with energy.  She made dainty circles with her left foot, and they became larger as the energy built.  Their musical tension, she knew, prepared them for the end of the next musical phrase.

As they took their first steps together, she felt like a little girl running out to a set of swings on the playground with a little boy by her side, free to romp and play.  They ran in slow motion as if to not allow the beauty of this moment of freedom escape the moment too quickly. As they moved, she returned to the door, and before she could even bend down to look through the keyhole, she heard footsteps.  The door opened.  Her adult self did not seem to recognize her.  She wanted to say, "Don't you see that I am the child you once were?" The music seemed to end too soon, she had been so deep in thought.

The stranger just looked at Margareta, as if to peer into her soul.  "Isn't it a wonderful thing to start with a little piece of sand and then have a pearl of great beauty come from it?  Such is one of the wonders of the Universe."

The last tango of the set started.  He opened his arms and this time she his chest.   "This!" she told herself, "this is entrega, surrender.  This is what others have talked about, not yielding to a man's lead but surrendering my soul while dancing!  Margareta returned to the door.  She was the little girl beholding the older woman who did not seem to know her.  

The little Margareta then realized that the older Margareta acted only out of unconditional love and kindness.  Her older self knelt before the younger Margareta.  The older Margareta was being kind to the little girl not just because it was herself but out of unconditional compassion.  The little Margareta said, ”You are what I have become and what I want to become.  Please stay with me.  I need your love more than anyone's.”

The older Margareta promised the little girl that she would never neglect or leave her.  As Margareta danced, she whispered out loud to herself,  "I cannot stop or save you from the hardships of life, but I want to be with you, and I hope you will be with me in my hardships, okay?  We need each other."  The two agreed to meet often.  She hoped the man hadn't overhead her promise to herself.

The tanda ended.  The cortina played.

"You have danced beautifully, Margareta.  I truly have found a pearl here in Bucharest.  It was such a pleasure for me.  You seem to have brought me to the same Keyhole into the Universe that little girl named Pearl saw as I danced with you.  Isn't that the best of what tango has to offer us, a way to sense the beauty of another person through their embrace?"

Margareta felt as if he had spoken the words that she should have said.  Yet they seemed as genuine for him as for her.  "But what is your name?" she asked him as he escorted her on his arm to the edge of the dance floor.

"In Buenos Aires they call me Angel del Gotan, but I am just a tanguero, a man who is led by the music.  He left immediately, snatching his umbrella from the table near the door as he left. She toyed with her necklace, and just then remembered that she had worn a single pearl that night.  "That's so weird," she told herself.  "That's just too weird!"  She stared at the door for nearly a minute until a friend came over to her to ask if she was okay.

"Sure, I am fine.  Great, really."

"Then why are you crying?

"I just had a look through the Keyhole to the Universe.  And I met someone there that I will never forget -- myself."
Photo credit:
Universe -- See the artist's great work at 
Keyhole --

Note that for those who have read The Book of Jonah:
Fiction:  The attempt to get closer to the truth.
Non-fiction:  The attempt to present the truth and thereby distance ourselves from it.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Mark...

    Do you know why I was so moved by the "story?"

    I am that little girl, looking through that keyhole. Most people who know me would say I am child-like (not to be confused with childish) and I think it is an accurate judgment on their part.

    But my child self, Terri, and the now-adult Teresa have yet to join hands and go through life together.

    My past, like many others, was severely disturbed at several key levels and I have managed to stuff it all into closet up in the attic in my mind and try to disassociate myself totally from it, how's that working for me? it worked well enough for a while -- a long while, but it’s not working so well anymore. =(

    But I do see the world through a keyhole, I focus in on the beauty, the peace, the quiet, because I cannot handle the world with the door wide open, I cannot handle my past with the door wide open. my viewpoint is limited but it sees goodness, beauty, kindness and love.

    So is this unhealthy or perhaps childish?

    Some would argue that it is, but all I know is that I am doing the best I can without medicating myself...and for me, for now, it is good enough!

    I was crying as I read this. I was
    so moved. Thanks, again for this post.

    (PS: For any Teresa out there... this is just a name I have made up! Sorry if anyone asks if you had written this!)


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