A few months ago I began to understand what ballet brings to the quality of my life. I mean beyond the more obvious benefits of doing ballet for my health.
I read a life-changing article, it wasn’t about ballet but something in me just clicked about dancing. Did I already lose you? I know, I know! People say this stuff all the time now, these days everything from recipes to socks claim to be life-changing but let me give you some context.
Earlier this year, I wasn’t in the greatest of places and this article changed things for me. After returning from my travels in Pakistan, I was supposed to kick-arse in 2017. Instead, I fell into a pit of despair flat on my bum but this time I wasn’t about to get up so easily. Something in me had snapped, being able to get up, out of the house, smile, care, give a damn, just wasn’t happening. “No.” a very visceral part of my being said, “No. I cannot pretend that I don’t exist for the sake of your facade anymore, Sahar. You’re killing me.”
I don’t know how much to tell you about my despair. Perhaps it is for another post, but after avoiding my emotions for years, what I was left with was a resentful and hateful depression. The harder I pushed it back, the worse it got. The more I was determined to be happy, the more it was determined to make it’s deafening presence known. After all these years it was screaming at me.
Three years ago, it was the Black Swan movie, that inspired me to finally bite the proverbial bullet and pursue ballet. I think that was first step towards acknowledging the part of me that I was trying to subdue. The bit that needed to be part of me if I was ever to feel whole.
I believe in magic. There was a reason that movie spoke to me, on some level, all that stuff I was trying to push away, was trying to find it’s way to the surface. These past few months my therapist helped me to understand all of this. If the Black Swan movie is about anything, it is about being able to acknowledge both yin and yang. The black half with a glimmer of light in it, and the white half that contains a speck of darkness. One cannot exist without the other. After all this time, it was my sadness that lay in the deepest and darkest part of me that was going to save me, not the happiness or light.
When this article came across my path earlier this year, 7 Strange Questions That Help You Find Your Life Purpose, my existential despair was revelling in its grip of me. Truth be told, I hadn’t been leaving the house, not even for ballet classes. This article was the eloquent reality check I needed. One question in particular stayed with me. Gun to your head, if you had to leave the house all day, everyday, where would you go and what would you do? (And no, you can’t just go and sit in a coffee shop and browse Facebook.)
Then something spoke up. A part of me that hadn’t had the floor in years. “Ballet or dancing. I would go dancing.” That was it, that was the only spark of hope needed and I grabbed on to it for dear life and decided in that moment never to let go of it. Because in those awful moments, where we do contemplate those terrifying thoughts of self-harm, the thing that kept stopping me was knowing that if I did act on one of those thoughts I wouldn’t be able to do ballet anymore. That made me sad, sadder than anything else and I could do something about this sadness.
We’ve all been through something, we have all felt broken, lonely, sadness and pain but finding the thing that brings us joy, the type of joy our eight-year-old self needs, is the one thing that can bring us closer to our life purpose. I started going to my ballet classes again.
It wasn’t a magic pill, I wasn’t suddenly saved or happy again but no matter how shitty I felt, I still went to ballet and you know what? For a few hours after class, I didn’t feel so shitty and had something to look forward to. I started seeing a therapist and told my people about what I was going through and even though I had a ton of stuff to work through, I started to feel better.
I don’t know what your spark looks like, I just know you have one, even when you feel like you don’t. For my hubby, it’s cricket. For my sister, it’s mentoring refugees. For my brother, it’s trekking mountains. For my Mum it’s spending time in her garden. For my Dad it’s his spirituality. So my question to you is where would you go and what would you do?