Listen to a Heart that Dances

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With hindsight, I know now the problem was really inside me: I was the problem. You see, I’d set such high standards for this dream, held on to them fiercely for thirty years, that now that I had this dream, was living it out, I absolutely had to be happy. How could I not be? This was it: there was nowhere else to go, no place else to dream of. And for a while I convinced myself that I was happy, that I needed to be happy, How could I not be happy? Yet, deep down, I was very unhappy, very lost, but denied it, deluded myself. I was enslaved; and part of being free was freeing myself of this dream, and the ambition of the dream, smashing it, breaking out of it forever, doing something utterly beyond the dream. I thought then that I was in control; but I had to admit to myself that I wasn’t, that I was out of control, that I was wrong. It was a sense of disappointment that I didn’t know how to handle.

Often we set ourselves goals we think will make us happy, goals we aim for, pursue ardently, believing happiness resides only in their attainment. But it’s these goals that cause our unhappiness, that condemn us, whether we achieve them or not. They force us down a specific route, with no turning back, no room for detour. Happiness, we believe, lies down this one road only. Henceforth we’ve little scope for maneuver and a lot of meanwhile to fill. And once we’re there, what do we do next? So I’ve give up no on trying to make my dreams real. I make sure they stay strictly bedtime affairs, modest bedtime affairs. I take comfort in something Jacques Brel sang in Avec Elegance: ‘No longer having grand things to dream of / But to listen to a heart that dances / To be desperate / But with elegance.’ Listening to my heart dance, I daydream instead now, in a place I never dreamed I’d be, where I’ve been cast by chance not volition. Of this place I ask nothing, expect nothing, make no demands. And it expects nothing in return. We sort of get along, together, instinctively, like I get along with Gribouille. Therein lies our tacit agreement, the secret story of our success — our elegance.

— Andy Merrifield from The Wisdom of Donkeyspages 131-132

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