Tuesday morning I'll be on my way to Buenos Aires. Am I excited? You bet! But a little nervous too. Can you blame me? This time it's not just for a 2-3 week tango vacation (which I haven't done in many years), but to live as a resident of the city of tango for the first time, to breathe the life and culture of the people, create new friendships, force myself to speak a language I never studied . . . it's all exciting and scary at the same time.
I'm not a novice at living in a foreign country. As you probably know, I moved from New York City to Umbria, Italy, in 1988 and stayed there for 20 years! (For my story, click here.) I know I can get by to some degree in Buenos Aires with my very good Italian, as I've done before, and with my familiarity with Castellano (Argentine Spanish), since I've worked with so many Argentine professionals in my tango schools.
However, the REALLY SCARY part is that I am stepping into my dream of many years - the dream of focusing on and cultivating my own artistic expression, rather than devoting my energies to facilitating the artistic expression of others. The latter has been my mission and my passion since 1988, exactly 25 years ago, when I opened the first session of my art school in Italy. Drawing, painting and sculpture or Argentine Tango, my joy has been giving skilled wings to people's creativity. But I focused little on my own.
For some people, artistic expression is the only thing they have ever known as a life-purpose. These are the people who, from a young age, become professional dancers, musicians, actors, writers, singers, and other practitioners of their precious artistic talents.
But others of us, though the gift burns inside us, hold back, creating obstacles to it that become our primary missions or issues in life. We never feel really whole, as our secret desire dangles beyond our arms' reach, like the golden carrot at the end of the stick. Sometimes we create the obstacle (such as another career) as our means of getting there: "When I accomplish this, it will allow me to then focus on my real gift." And often we don't dare confess to anyone what our real gift is, because we're not doing it and we have little proof of our talent, and, whether we're conscious of it or not, we're afraid we'll be ridiculed and our dream will be trampled. Often, pursuit of our gift is not practical, so it gets little support from those who care about us.
And who's to say it's our true gift? We're surrounded by judges every day. But WE know it in our deepest selves, which we tend to smother with the practicality and busyness of our other responsibilities. Or we smother the voice of our deepest selves with problems that keep recurring in our lives - health problems, body problems, money problems, relationship problems. We unconsciously create and perpetuate such problems to keep us from our greatest desire, which is usually the desire of expressing our gift, because we unconsciously perceive some terrible danger to our well-being if we "go there". So we bury our desire in a secret hiding place and forget about it most of the time.
I have learned this from my ongoing interior research, with the guidance of mentors, coaches and authors of books. I have also learned this about dozens of people that I coach, whom I help reach that deep place where they reveal the beautiful truth that their greatest desire in life is complete self-expression. But unless they are guided to that place, most people stick to, "Of course I want to dance tango better and feel a connection with my partners, because it's enjoyable. Doesn't everyone?" And when those who secretly want more keep it to that general level, they'll never take the risk of investing the time and money to fulfill their hidden dream. We are capable of so much resistance to what we desire the most!
Those of you who have been reading my ezine for at least two years know that I have postponed this trip twice, and I have even cut it down from four months to two. But on Tuesday when I step onto that plane, I step off a ledge of safety. I'm taking a bold step toward my own transformation - something that scares me, yet that I wish I had done decades ago.
But then it would not have meant what it means to me today, and I would not have brought to my artistic expression all the rich life experience I have today.
I promise to keep writing to you from Buenos Aires about the experience!
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