Monday, January 12, 2015

Tiny dancer


I will get back to my usual Provencesque style postings soon but I have a moment that I wanted to share with you. You see, I haven't quite been able to get the record to stop skipping over the scratch of last weeks events in Paris (although the site of over three million people thronging the streets in solidarity and nearly fifty world leaders linking arms was promising) but there was one small event that almost put the needle back in place. 

On Saturday, I gave one of my walks through Arles. As always, I am drawn to those old stones like a bee to honey. This particular walk was the longest that I have ever done as I started with a whirlwind tour of the gigantissisme Saturday market before rolling through the three hour long "How much History can you Take?" stroll in the afternoon. Frankly, I felt relieved to be outside in the sun, to watch the birds swirl around the obelisk and to be away from the pull of the 24 hour news station which had eaten so many of my tears in the past three days. But the family involved, all interesting people, included a ten year old girl, by far the youngest person that I have had along for a walk, let alone such a long one. Would she be lost in the bustle of the marketplace and my droning relentlessly about how "the layers of time brush up against each other?" 

I needn't have worried. Do you remember that age when you were utterly content to be in your own imaginary world? Where the thoughts in your head could weave into scenarios so fascinating that those cotton-candy dreams were capable of floating you through your day? N, as I will call her, had not fallen into the precociousness of adolescence but was still pure and unquestioningly intact in her sense of self. Certainly, she charmed me right off the bat by asking in perfect French if there was a toilette nearby but also in the stories that she would rattle off half-audibly so insistently that I would catch myself tilting my head downwards, straining to hear. "I talk to myself a lot," she responded without the slightest hint of embarrassment when I asked what she was up to. Yes. 

It was near the end of our walk when we arrived, drooping slightly, at the winterized Place du Forum. My voice was nearly shot after so much talking and so we huddled together as I explained the hopelessly feeble remnants of the Roman Forum, what had inspired Van Gogh's "Terrasse du café, le soir" and why the Nobel prize-winning poet Frédéric Mistral was disappointed with the statue that Arles had commissioned for him there. While the words flowed out of my mouth, I became aware of a fluttering just beyond my vision. Earlier, N's Mother had mentioned to her, "It has been a long time now since your last ballet class, hasn't it?" N had decided to rectify that by having her own impromptu class right then and there on the empty square. She sashayed, pirouetted and leapt then leapt again and again until she was doubled over and giggling at being out of breath. And then she would start over, so lightly as if she seemed to be skimming the ground. Her family were intent on listening to me. It was clear that they were used to such moments just as N herself seemed to have absolutely zero awareness that she was being watched. But she was. Not only by me but by so many gathered at the tables of the one café that was open. And I felt, then saw, hearts that had been through so much pain being lifted, one by one by a tiny dancer.

It was a moment of Grace and of Freedom. 

When I finally was preparing to say my goodbyes to the family, I cupped N's face with my palms and told her, "You are a beautiful and unique girl," before kissing her on the top of her head. I couldn't help it. She just smiled at me in return. She seemed happy that she had made me happy. As I turned to walk up the quay, I wondered if angels exist after all and simply felt quite grateful for haven been given the much needed gift of Peace.


40 comments:

  1. That day was truly a gift as is your ability to share it. Thank you for writing it down. I suspect I will be rereading this post more than once.

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    1. There was no way I could not share that.

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  2. my eyes are leaking...just a little bit.

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  3. Oh Heather, I love this post for so many reasons, not least because it reminds me of our own wonderful walk through Arles and standing on that very spot in the Place du Forum together on a bright sunny day. What a great memory!

    I'm also happy to know that this little person brought some loveliness your way and soothed your troubled heart. I've been thinking about you a lot over the course of the last week...

    And this little girl... I think I was that girl many, many years ago. I still talk to myself quite frequently, although now it is usually when no one else is around to notice. One of the things I've struggled with as I pursue my artist's paths is a HUGE discomfort with putting myself out there for the world to see. The next time I feel this way, I'll remember your tiny dancer. And perhaps do a little dance myself (if only on the inside).

    Hope this week brings all sorts of beauty your way. I still believe in all that is magic in the world. And that love will prevail even though there is so much darkness and hate around...

    XOXOXO

    PS: Can you believe... now I am having camera issues. Sigh.

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    1. Oh Jeanne, this made me misty-eyed and is just an example of the generosity of spirit in you that makes your creative efforts so wonderful and appreciated by so many. Think how far you have come in the past four years and what incredible courage it took to make that initial leap (pun intended) and yet you did it! Please keep on, camera or no, for you have more than that to offer although it does make things more difficult!
      Keep that light on,
      xo
      H

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  4. That "pure and unquestioning" self that you reference, Heather. Wondrous, those moments of childhood - and their ability to carry us along with them.

    Yes, very much what we need right now, with so much heartache for so many reasons as we consider the world around us.

    Thank you for this much-needed reminder of beauty.

    xo

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    1. You are welcome, dear DA (and I owe you an email). I really needed it myself. Still do.

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  5. An angel indeed... :)
    There is such perfection in this post dear Heather... xv

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    1. I don't know about perfection, Ms V but I took greater joy in writing it than anything that I have done in a long time. Merci, amie.

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  6. I can’t imagine those rare moments of elation watching the little girl dancing and everyone around her in trance. And you captured the emotion with clarity.

    "And I felt, then saw, hearts that had been through so much pain being lifted, one by one by a tiny dancer.”

    The gift of Peace comes so rarely but comes when we need it and we are grateful.

    And the little angel...

    Thank you Heather.

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  7. So very beautiful Heather, your account with this tiny dancer! I do remember as a child the hours spent under the weeping willow tree playing out so many fictitious scenarios and the hours reading and being taken to other worlds! Magical!

    xoxo
    Karena
    The Arts by Karena

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    1. I think that we had very similar childhoods, Karena! ;)

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  8. What a wonderful post - perfection in its simple glimmer of hope in the glare of all that you have been through over there. I know that you feel all the love that we've been sending; so glad that you also had this little dancer for a sweet respite. I know well the happiness that children can bring, in their innocence and joy and curiosity and silliness - puppies, too, for that matter! Glad you have doses of both to help with healing.

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    1. Ben definitely knew that something was up and kept coming to be near me...and he is not a huge snuggler as you know! Especially when I was crying. :(
      And I so love to get to watch you teach for many reasons but one of them is that all of that pure creative goodness that they express is in safe hands with you. :)

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  9. Living her passion on a moment to moment basis .. a lesson for us all. Another positive light filled moment recorded .. never to be clouded by any form of negativity .. well done .. write on .. light wins! Aloha, Bill

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    1. I am sure that you are right, Bill. Mahalo!

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  10. Surely a little angel. Children teach us the beauty and mystery of life. They see the world in a unique way as they are yet untainted by its folly.

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    1. Folly is certainly true, more like utter madness! You are right, how wonderful that we have that time - well, most of us - when we just don't see it...

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  11. What a lovely, lovely story, Heather! It made me a bit misty eyed. Innocence and freedom do still exist and it takes a child to show us that! I have also been glued to the news reports over the last week and its easy to become overwhelmed by the attempts to spread fear and hatred. The free spirit of a child can lead the way.
    Deb Carter

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  12. Childhood is a golden age.
    We all keep the seed of that age in the depths of ourselves.
    Lucky the ones who , at the end of their journey, return children in their heart and soul leaving germinate that seed again...
    A year of HOPE
    Bisous Heather

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  13. I loved it that YOU loved having HER on the TOUR!What could have been a major distraction for YOU turned into a wonderful day!
    XO

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  14. Good to hear that you still do your history walks around Arles. For some reason I thought you would have stoped doing that.
    And very brave to have done it recent saturday rather than stay home in resignation. Going to places, facing our fears often leads to new perspectives and experiences like the one you had.
    I have been reading the french press up and down those days and came again to a point where I had to face that Provence is not only beautiful landscape, sunshine, redwine and style.
    Well.... there is a lot of movement now, also in Germany. People are nearly everyday on the street demonstrating. And luckily those who demonstrate for tolerance are the vast majority.

    Thank you for this beautiful story Heather, it also helped me to put me back in place!

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    1. Amazing that I was emailing you while you were writing here, Silke...not the first time that has happened either! So yes, you see the depths of degradation by the leaders of the FN during their visit here in Provence...which, as I pointed on in the comments section of the NY Times is not their home, so it was just a political move which was exactly what she claimed Hollande did in the first place. It is terrible and frightening...and this done without shame by them while the nation was suffering...

      I will admit that I was a little afraid to leave the house Saturday, to go to such a crowded place. Remi, like you, told me to not let fear win.
      Bisous and a warm hug to you,
      H

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  15. Thank you for this. When there is so much madness and horror, how wonderful to know that divine and spontaneous beauty can break out too at a moment's notice. What joy. XXXXX G

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    1. Yes, so good to know that such light really is just as present as the dark.

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  16. OK, This is now my favourite post of yours. I wish I'd been there. xx

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  17. I've enjoyed your Provencal stories so much and feel moved to comment for the first time. My spirits are uplifted by this tender story of Tiny Dancer and the beauty of her movements in the Forum. Thanks, Heather.

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    1. Thank you m! And I am sorry for the delay in responding. I am still super muddle-headed over it all. It is why I am SO grateful to have that one moment of clarity to go back to. I am glad you enjoy the little Provenciness. :)

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  18. This is what we all needed to hear and see; the good stories of life in France. And congratulations to Remi. Such wonderful news for you both.

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  19. Heather -- Please send me your address, you won the prosecco bubble bath!! I brought it with me, I am here is Eze bord du Mer. I may come up to Il sur la sorgue this weekend so I could drop it by or else I can put it in the post. Congratulations!

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    1. Woot woot! Thank you!!!! I am SO excited. More excuses to take baths = happiness. Merci!!!

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  20. Oh Heather, those moments are simply priceless aren't they? And I am a firm believer of Angels on Earth - there are far too many of these magical moments that 'just happen' to be explained in any other way! Remember the goodness no matter what distressing news the headlines bring us~
    Hugs,
    Jackie

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    1. Like your getting your house in Greece? That would be so wonderful if you are right. Have you ever seen "Wings of Desire"? If not, you should!

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  21. Thank you so much for this story, Heather. There certainly are angels and not all of them are children!

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    1. Do you think so Teresa Maria? I hope that you are right!

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  22. This post is so beautiful. Bless her for having her freedom and sharing it. And how delicately and charmingly you weave the story.
    I've had too many miracles in my life to not believe in angels on earth!

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