Someone once said, “You don’t grow stiff because you grow old, you grow old because you grow stiff.” That makes sense to me.
Just as we’re apt to use our brains less — and suffer from dottage, senility and such — so are we apt to use our bodies less. We seem to do lots of couch potatoing and sitting around in comfy chairs watching the tube or the cars go by. We’re often advised to go to a gym or a spa or take a long walk. Rarely are we advised to find another venue: dance.
We don’t have to do a Grand Jete — that’s a little far out — and many of us over 80 don’t look so hot in pink tutus or purple leotards. I still practice yoga, but the last time I assumed the plough I had a devil of a time unwinding. There are a lot of yoga postures I still do, love to do, but they’re far less athletic than they used to be. Besides, unless you’ve practiced yoga all your life, you can’t possibly be expected to take to the Eagle in one swell swoop.
I love the Tree and the Lotus and the Child, but what I love better is to dance.
If you’re still on two legs moving, upright — steady as you go and breathing, which is always nice — you can dance. It’s one of the most wonderful exercise/pleasures a human being has. You use your entire body, legs, feet, arms, shoulders, hips, neck and head. Your arms can stretch and flutter like a bird. Fingers, hands, wrists moving in symmetry and grace. Your spine can bend, your toes can stretch, your head can bob and tuck and nod. You can move with muscle and sinew and joints to music — the music of your heart, your mind, the spheres.
You can be Fred Astair or Ginger Rogers or maybe Michael Jackson. Hey, there might even be some modern rock dandies — there’s always Madonna — you can pretend to be. Make it up as you go and, if you croak in the process, it’s almost as good as dying with your boots on.
Give yourself space. Give yourself time. Dancing in the aisles of the grocery store is always fun. Everybody loves you and you love them and sometimes others join you. Sometimes the music is delightful. Sometimes challenging.
Whoever is watching you on the spy-eye overhead, pay compliments when you stand in line — still and sweetly sweating — at the counter. “Boy, can you dance,” is not an uncommon remark, even if it’s sometimes bogus. But heck, I’m sure it’s better than keeping a sad and mournful eye on candy-popping shoplifters. And you know, in the privacy of your home, you don’t even have to wear clothes? I’m a little reticent to suggest you purchase fans or pasties, but the opportunity’s there, if that’s your style. Over 80s might wish to avoid mirrors. And you know what else? It’s free.
Come on, ladies, guys, too if you like. Dance your way to health, happiness and prosperity.
• Bettejo Dux is a Kalaheo resident and author of “The Scam: A madcap romp through North Shore Kauai.”