I had the pleasure of spending time with family on vacation this summer.
As we walked along the shops of the shoreline we heard music playing in a little park.
A sizeable crowd had gathered near a community band shell – drawn to the music, we soon joined.
Several sat, stood, clapped, and sang to music.
It’s funny how a crowd seems to become one when music plays and people simply be.
Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves.
I noticed, as did the crowd, two people standing in front of the band – backs to the crowd – dancing side by side.
This couple was dancing – definitely more pronounced than the others. I mean, they were really getting into to it.
As the evening went on this couple’s dancing became more intense.
Their movements captured the crowd’s awareness more so than the music playing. The dancing couple was jumping in the air – moving faster than the songs rhythm and clapping to their own beat.
I watched and thought; as I assumed many did – what on earth are they doing? I asked myself – why would they dance they like this? I heard someone yell “sit down”. I heard some say “they must be drunk.” I wondered as well.
Yet they danced…they danced song after song with the same energy and movements – even during slow songs. They clapped to their own rhythm – their own song – and they danced oblivious to the crowd.
As this went on I became aware of something…that feeling of one with the crowd was gone – along with the beauty of the music that had filled my ears only to be replaced by judgmental thought, sarcastic statements, and a drive that we sometimes have as people to find fault in someone that is different. The music’s magic was now background noise. I had lost the enjoyment of the moment.
The concert stopped, and as I rose to leave, I looked back…I needed to see their faces.
As they turned, the sight filled my eyes with tears.
I saw a woman…in her fifties or early sixties turn to the crowd with a smile making her look as if she were in her twenties. It was pure joy – the joy that mothers have with their young children.
The man turned as well.
He had a smile made of sunshine and no worries.
He had the smile you see when a child sees his mother in the school parking lot and runs to her arms.
The man in his thirties – this beautiful man – her son – has Down Syndrome.
And they danced and they danced with love.
And I thought how wonderful to live a life free from judgment – based on a promise of love and how freeing it must feel to live in the moment.
I thought how petty I was to allow the moment that I was living to be affected by the inherent need to judge or find fault with those that may not fit in with the crowd.
I found myself wanting to dance to the music that they felt fill their hearts.
I mention this story not to preach, but in our daily lives we can spend so much time looking for issues in others, ourselves, colleagues and even recipients of care that we miss the beauty and strengths that each individual has.
Sometimes we forget to dance.
Thomas Krolicki, LMSW, ACSW, CAADC, is Vice President of Development and Community Based Programs at Wolverine Human Services. Tom has over 28 years of administrative and clinical service experience with a special focus in policy and program development, legislative action, and advocacy for children and families involved with Michigan’s Child Welfare, Juvenile Justice, and Mental Health Systems. Tom is also highly invested in the development of new social workers and is a field placement advisor with several Universities and Colleges.