Take a minute to think about what you were doing last Wednesday. Maybe you were at class, or at home or at work. But chances are that you can’t really recollect what you were doing. Even if you can, it probably seems like any other day.
Now think back to the last month. You are likely to remember certain meetings, your days at work, the regular household chores, a special occasion or two. Just like any other month, yes?
What we are trying to get at is – that with the busy lives that people lead, everyday routines do not have too much room for spontaneity. In that cramped room of “too many things to do/not enough time”, your natural urge to explore, to try something new or to just have fun hides in a corner, eagerly awaiting its turn.
This seemingly lost spontaneity is expressed in a warm, beautiful manner in the movie “Shall We Dance?”. A movie in so many ways is a medium that tries to imitate life, acting as a great bridge between universal emotions and common experiences. This movie is about a man, John Clark (Richard Gere) who is a lawyer and has a loving family. However, he feels that something is missing in his life as he makes his way every day back from work to home.
In this video, he notices a dance class on his commute back home. He sees a woman (Paulina, Jennifer Lopez) standing at the window, looking distant and sad. Something about the dance class draws him in and he signs up for it. In the movie, he says to Paulina that “you looked on the outside the way I was feeling on the inside.”
What follows is a string of various heart-warming experiences. When he starts out, he struggles awkwardly with dancing. John meets many new people from different walks of life at the class, each offering a new perspective. At times, he feels embarrassed about dancing and even hides it from his family.
Similarly, as you step into certain areas in your life, you adopt associated roles- that of a student, or a spouse or parent or a working professional. And with these roles come responsibilities and the expectations to fulfil them. There is nothing wrong with having these roles; they provide a sense of stability. But many times, you let this role define you- who you are as a person and what you are “allowed” to do- and that can be limiting. You miss out on the rest of you! You tend to either feel appalled or afraid of the childlike excitement that spontaneity brings along.
In this video, he eventually allows himself to fall in love with dancing, and realizes that he does not need to pick between these roles. He can go beyond these conventional roles and adopt new ones. He can be a great dancer, a loving husband and an efficient employee; all as much a part of him.
What is also very apparent through this movie is that it is often your own idea about “what other people would think” that stops you. Most people feel scared of failing or being judged before they even begin to try. When you do let your natural impulses guide you, when you try something different, you are more likely to feel happier. This sense of happiness and well-being permeates into the rest of your life. It helps you to be more flexible in your ideas and prevents stagnation- you find to easier to connect with and accept yourself (and others). If nothing else, in this process, you will discover something new about yourself!
This natural urge to explore, that is not pressured by external restrictions can be seamlessly woven in as part of our daily life. We just have to “allow” it. Let’s start with today? It could be in small ways. It does not have to be something new or complex, it can also be something you enjoyed doing earlier. It could be- getting back to enthusiastically singing in the bathroom to taking up that salsa or cooking class you’ve always wanted to take.
Spontaneity does not have any age limit, any expiry date and does not favour one role over the other. So, taking a leaf out of John Clark’s life, let’s look within and step beyond our roles. Today, start by saying an enthusiastic hello to the rest of you! 🙂
Do share your experiences and what you feel helps you connect with your spontaneous side with us through your comments.
Image Credit: Miramax
Post contributed by: Anusha Manjani
Anusha is a Clinical Psychologist and she worked with children and adolescents at Inner Space, from 2013 to 2015.