I was discussing with an acquaintance recently and he said to me that I was dancing in the dark. And he was right. We had been talking about an on-going project which has dragged longer than it should have; he was right, I was dancing in the dark. I knew exactly what he meant. I mentioned it to someone else a few days later and they were puzzled. What does it mean to dance in the dark?
Dancing in the dark is just that-dancing in the dark with no one to see your dance. No one knows how well you dance, there’s nobody to criticize your moves and direct you. Just dancing without an audience; and where there’s an audience, they are unable to judge what you are doing because they cannot see you.
A dance in the dark can be very frustrating. Who wants to perform without an audience to applaud? Why write if there are no readers? Whoever made a movie just for the archives? Why cook if no one will eat? Why compose a song for the deaf? I could go on and on but you get the point. Everybody needs an audience at some point. People need to know that whatever they are doing matters in some way to someone. In other words nobody really wants to dance in the dark, unseen, and unnoticed.
But is it all bad? What should we do if we find ourselves dancing in the dark?
The first thing to do is to ask why?
Why are you dancing in the dark?
Sometimes it is by choice; we may choose to do whatever we are doing away from the limelight. But that is not what we are talking about here, when it is by choice it is a good thing. The challenge comes when you are dancing in the dark because no one wants to see you or the lights have been deliberately switched off by another. A dance in the dark is frustrating only if you truly want to dance in the light but you just are not able to do so. And who doesn’t want to dance in the light?
But dancing in the dark, frustrating as it can be should be used for our own good. First be sure you have done all within your power to switch on the lights; then settle down to enjoy the dance-in-the-night. Yes, you heard me right, enjoy your dance for the audience of only me! No one is watching, no one cares so you can be free to dance with abandon. Rehearse every kind of step you ever thought of.
Jump as high as you can, swing every way possible, shake and shiver, laugh while you dance, weep while you dance, after all no one is watching. Write your best prose, or poetry. Change the characters in that novel, play around with scenes, and do research.
Experiment with a new recipe, who is there to tell you it tastes awful? Just do it and do you.
A dance in the dark right? Believe me it’s an opportunity to turn out your best work yet. It’s rehearsal with no critique. Hone your craft and don’t worry that there’s no light and no one sees; after the darkness comes the light. You may not know when the lights will come on and someone will see, so prepare in the dark. One thing you must never do; when the lights come on, don’t be found twiddling your thumbs and bemoaning your fate.
So are you dancing in the dark? Do it with abandon!