Doing It Anyway

Wednesday, December 8, 2021

I zoom every other Tuesday with 3 women to see if we’ve all made good on our pledge to accomplish what we said we would. It’s a project accountability group. I was really looking forward to our latest session because one of the members had committed to completing and performing an original poem interwoven with stepping. I was intrigued though I had no idea what she was talking about.
“What do you mean stepping?” I said. “Like step dancing? Irish step dancing?”
“No, stepping, that thing where you combine spoken word and clapping and stomping.”* Denyse stood up to demonstrate. She leaned over and slapped her thighs then kicked one leg up and clapped underneath it, then did a couple of slaps to her arms and chest and ended with a stomp. “Like that.”
“What??? What is that?” I blurted out. I couldn’t process the flurry of activity I’d just seen. “I’ve never heard of this before. Where did it originate? Who does this?”
“It takes from African American folk traditions. And it’s mostly young guys on college campuses who do it. And me,” laughed Denyse. “I’m an overweight middle-aged lady who doesn’t know how to dance but, ehhhh, I’m going to do it anyway.”
The World Premiere of Denyse’s “Hunting the Moon” took place last Tuesday. It was awesome. Denyse was filmed in silhouette in front of a blank wall, perfect for the shadowy mood of the poem. Pausing at various points to step, the clapping and slapping and stomping echoed back in conversation with the poem. At the end, Denyse took a 3-directional bow to the world.
What gets me is that no one assigned this project to Denyse. It wasn’t for anything. The fact that she was going to practice something for hours on end, film it, then forget about it did not make the slightest bit of difference to her. She was simply aligning with something in her heart.
It’s similar to that drive in my mother to continue making things, bringing to two pieces of fabric together with duct tape after Parkinson’s took her ability to work a needle or a sewing machine. She was still going to sew. She just did it with duct tape.
Doing it anyway is like building a sandcastle. That the tide is going to take it away doesn’t matter at all. It was there. It was done with great love.
To doing it anyway, whether it’s something creative or something mundane, whether it’s ever going to be seen.
*”Stepping is a complex performance that melds folk traditions with popular culture and involves synchronized percussive movement, singing, speaking, chanting and drama. Developed by African American fraternities and sororities, it is now practiced worldwide.” Wikipedia
Note: If you could use a little kick in the pants to get some stuff done, I cannot recommend a project accountability group enough! We limit our group to 4, which gives us each 15 minutes to present and discuss. Our nice even Zoom quadrants also ensure that our absence will not go unnoticed, so no getting off the hook too easy.