Today’s post comes a few days after I received the sad news that a dancer who used to attend my school passed away at the age of seventeen. She had an undiagnosed brain tumour, which she found out about too late. As I understand it, she went to the hospital feeling unwell and died a short time later. We were not close friends, but we spoke regularly when she was attending my school and I liked her a lot. She was so funny and always seemed to be laughing and happy. She was a beautiful dancer- I remember being jealous of her stunning long lines. She moved away suddenly and most of us didn’t get to say goodbye, which isn’t unusual at my school- we have a lot of international students who drop out due to Visa problems or home sickness. We didn’t keep in touch, but I kept up with her posts on Facebook. Last I saw she had met a man and was very much in love.
It was on Facebook that I found out she had died. I was scrolling through my news feed in bed with a coffee in the morning, and the news hit me like a punch in the stomach. It was just a huge shock to see someone so young taken so suddenly. I felt upset for a few days, and I did a lot of thinking.
She passed away the day after the terrorist attacks in Paris. Between these two tragedies, and all of the other terrorist activities that have cost hundreds of lives recently, I was thinking about the impermanence of life and what that means in our day-to-day living.
This is a girl who was an amazing dancer, working towards a dream. Now, she will never achieve that dream. We all sometimes wonder if we can make it as a professional dancer; if we have the talent, if we can cope with the demands, if it’s worth all of the sacrifice. What we don’t wonder is what if everything is going perfectly in the journey towards a terrible career and then life completely changes, or ends? Will you have lived a life worth living, or will you have worked night and day towards a dream that can now never come true? I hope that she enjoyed the journey. I hope that she came into class every day because she loved to dance, and she didn’t forget that when it got hard. I hope that she enjoyed being at school, with her peers, and performing in the shows, instead of just getting through her training, waiting for the day she could stand on the stage as a professional. You never know what it just around the corner, so enjoy today. Enjoy dancing because it is what you love to do, and relish every second of it.
Furthermore, with everything going on in the world at the moment, it can feel like we’re not safe anywhere. This is not true- atrocities are so widely reported that it skews our perspective. You are more likely to win the lottery twice than die in a terrorist attack. More people die every day from common illnesses and accidents than are violently killed. We need to keep perspective, and we need to hold on to the things that are beautiful, and joyful. Let us not live in fear. Let us be defiant as we continue to dance, and go to the ballet, to the theatre, and enjoy music, food, cinema and events. Don’t stay away from places; don’t change your travel arrangements. Live fearlessly, and fill your life with things that are beautiful. Appreciate your loved ones and give thanks for them with all your heart. Rejoice in your health, your home, and everything you have. Go to dance every day feeling happy that you have the opportunity to do so, and work your hardest for people like my friend who won’t get to achieve their dream. Don’t live every day as if it’s your life because you fear death and disaster- live every day the way you want to live your life. It’s true that anything can happen, and while it’s so unlikely that it’s not worth being scared, these events are certainly a reminder to appreciate everything and everyone in our lives, value our freedom and live a life that makes us happy every day.