Tuesday, November 1, 2016

The Seven Year Itch

After seven years many people give up, or reassess what the future should be.  That's the seven year itch. 

I am not giving up, but on my way to important life goals. November first marks important dates for me--seven years to the day of maintaining this tango blog, ten years of a passion for dancing tango, and a coincidence of having written 365 posts with this one. Has it been worth it? That is a question to myself. The answer is "absolutely!" Writing so often has lead me to do my life's work:  Writing a book that must be written for veterans.

The goal of writing far less, yet far more
The passion of tango and writing about it have combined to make me a better writer. This prepares me for a Life Mission that has little to do with tango.  This blog has forced me to learn a lot by researching topics and honing my hard-won progress as a writer. And on this seventh anniversary, I am announcing that my plan is to write far less about tango and on this blog.  I have a very important task before me:  As a therapist, I want to help slow the suicide rate among veterans in the US, which is about one suicide each hour of the day. 

A review of my most important contributions
I know some of my readers very well, and we will not agree on which posts are my most important contributions. Nevertheless, I hope you will allow me to suggest the posts that changed me the most over the past seven years, and will also help me write my book.

First, what was new this year:

  • What makes tango anti-social created something rare for me. More than any other post, this one changed me.  It changed the way I engage people who seem to shun others at the milonga.  The neurological research I read seemed to have huge implications for the tango community. I tried to convey how this neurological research could be put into practice to help the me and any who might listen to be kinder and gentler.
  • The Eight Elements of Movement is a piece of the book I am writing for veterans. If you have been reading about veterans in the US, you know that they are being pumped full of drugs to manage their PTSD and depression.  The drugs could be safely lowered or eliminated by using movement (including dance) for therapy.  This post gives examples of how this works.  Dance is a movement that has the potential for helping veterans.
  • Music, Dance and the Survival of the Fittest was, I believe, the most important post in seven years. I wrote from the perspective of evolutionary psychology as an advocate for music and dance. The famous evolutionary psychologist, Steven Pinker, inspired me to write to challenge his absurd idea about music--which misses another unique human marker, dance. He said, "I suspect music is auditory cheesecake, an exquisite confection crafted to tickle the sensitive spots of...our mental faculties." If he had worked with soldiers who have gone and returned from war, he would know how important music and dance is for the thinking animal. If he had visited the oppressed slaves of the Americas as they created the "dancing music" of tango, samba, cumbia, mambo, guaguaco, salsa, jazz and negro spirituals, he would not be so flippant about music and the survival of the fittest. From this post I started realizing how essential it is to make and respond somatically to music. Oppressed, depressed and bereaved people need music/dance to survive and go on. Life is a parade of tragedies. How is the animal-who-thinks to survive?
Older posts which haunt me and still change me:
Black Belt in Tango? helped me to hone in on the value of staying within the "beginner's mind," and I coined the term, "The Master Beginner." This mindset is good in all things worth doing, and helps me as a dancer, therapist, and tai chi instructor for veterans.

The Pseudo-Tango Connoisseur has been more and more important to me.  At the ten-year mark of dancing tango, many people get tired of bad floor craft, DJ's who do not know what they are doing and teachers who harm the good embraces of natural dancers in order to teach them an endless catalog of steps. Being a connoisseur, I realized, was best expressed through being a connoisseur of human connection, not tango or wine or any other thing. I have to remind myself about this more and more.

And as far as the future goes...
I am not so sure that I have much more to offer the tango community in comparison to what I need to do for the thousands of suffering soldiers with PTSD. My wife made me realize this as I pondered developing therapeutic dance modalities. She convinced me that the larger goal should be to help PTSD victims of all types. "The book needs to be written!" she said. So if you hear and even see less of me at milongas, it is because I am doing my Life Work: Helping people victimized by acts of war or any kind of aggression. I will start, however, with the men and women who went off to fight bravely in conflicts. Whether from my country or others, these young people often joined the military to escape poverty, to get a student loan, to gain citizenship or because of a family tradition. Many learned what it truly means that "war is hell," and it was worse than what they ever imagined. In my therapeutic work, I have helped them to return to the eight elements of survival on a spiritual level. That has helped begin the process of healing. It applies to everyone, but they are first in line for me.

Dear Readers:  Thanks to the many who have encouraged me on with comments and private emails. Thanks to volunteer editors and translators of my posts into other languages. Finally, to you--the silent ones--who appear out of nowhere and tell me that something I wrote helped them even on a spiritual level. Thanks for the many who have stuck with me for the entire seven years and the many who met me just a short time, yet have read back to the start on November 1st, 2009. You have given me the motivation to make it this far. It's just that I am itching to do something new--something that will give them hope and keep them from ending their lives out of desperation.

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