nBy Nirmala N.
nnI used to love Argentine tango. In many ways, the push and pull of this perennially seductive dance is an example of the dynamics that make male and female relationships so fascinating. A man leads, and a woman follows—at least, at first glance. A more perspicacious gazer can see through all the elegant flourishes—boleos, sacadas, molinettes, and sharp, gravity-defying dips—to the heart of tango: connection, collaboration, intuition, and a moment-to-moment reliance on the genius of improvisation.nnGiven that I’m such a strong proponent of tango and such a passionate believer in its ability to enchant, intoxicate, and transform us, you’d think I’d devote a substantial chunk of my social life to perfecting this fine art…or, at least, steeping myself in the subculture. But at a recent milonga (that I was at strictly for watching, not for dancing), a well-known tango teacher who was well-aware that my recent financial setbacks had been stymying my ability to break out my dancing shoes reminded me of an old offer he’d made: free Monday night tango classes and practicas, on the condition that I would shed my wallflower status and give myself over to the dance in a deeper way. Of course, while I graciously accepted, I had a million and one reasons to decline: a Monday night yoga class (which I only frequented on the odd occasion), a standing commitment with friends (of the social variety—therefore, the easiest to reschedule), or the simple and elusive excuse that I just couldn’t find the time.nnWhen I sheepishly greeted my tango teacher, he chided me gently: “I’m still waiting for you to come to my classes!” I replied, “Well, I’m still waiting for the right moment.” A bit flummoxed, he returned, “The right moment? What do you mean? If not now, then when?”nnIn some ways, I’ve always felt a little behind. A chronic procrastinator, I’ve turned that nagging feeling of having just a few more items that haven’t been crossed off my to-do list into a veritable lifestyle of sweeping the “petty” details under the rug. The details are sundry: dry-cleaning my winter coats, calling my mother, booking a plane ticket to that yoga retreat I’ve been meaning to take for months, contacting an editor with a potential life-changing job, shifting an old debt that’s been clogging up my credit report and my mental space for too long, and shifting misbegotten paradigms and beliefs about myself that arose from all these little glitches, to begin with. The tendency to procrastinate may seem innocuous enough if you can cut yourself a break, but more often than not, I’ve found that procrastination is one of the most insidious enemies to an already delicate self-esteem. It’s a stealth invader that sweeps over your internal landscape and takes you over before you realize what’s happened.nnMy brand of procrastination—like most, I suspect—stems not from simple laziness or fear, but also from a tendency to romanticize the past and incessantly plan for the future without fully getting that the vital trick is surrendering to the present, a.k.a. the great unknown. The tendency to obsessively mainline every dot on the timeline except the one that really matters—here! now!—is partially about abjuring responsibility and accountability to the people and projects that pepper my immediate surroundings. To enter into a contract with your life exactly as it is in the present is to assume a task with no truly definable boundaries or outcomes—it is the greatest tango of them all, because you can’t rely solely on social graces and previously trodden paths to be an effective dancer.nnIt’s all well and fine to draw up feverish litanies praising the virtues of past and future, but true courage requires that we allow the bookends of time to crumble and fall away if we want to fully experience our aliveness, which is not an abstraction or a metaphysical cloud in the sky. It’s a palpable, touchable, and plain reality that can be found in our hearts and bodies, exactly where we are standing or sitting. It isn’t always easy to let ourselves be here, of course—it’s humbling, because it divests us completely of our defenses, of our habits, of our stale estimations of our abilities, and of the persnickety layers of our ego that tell us things like, “It’s too hard,” “It will hurt,” “You’ll be disappointed.”n
The Turned-On Woman knows that to be who she is, she must disavow predictability and surrender completely to the present: with all its twists, turns, and seemingly unnavigable detours. This brand of surrender is a phenomenon that sweeps decisively across her life; the casual observer probably won't be able to tell the difference, but for her, reality has shifted 180 degrees. A world that once existed in shades of gray is covered over by the glossy sheen of the extraordinary: the now.
nShe also knows that to live is to accept the dichotomy of pleasure and pain rather than compartmentalize or attenuate the spectrum of her experiences; for this reason, she can accept both as they arise. She can exalt who she is NOW rather than contort herself into a fantasy of who she could be, which is why she is the kind of woman you will always see accepting a dance at a milonga, regardless of whether she has mastered the tango or not.nnNot that mastery is some great thing to aspire to. “Life is for beginners, and if you believe that you’ll ever master it, you’re deluded,” a famous spiritual teacher once said.nnI haven’t quite gotten over my procrastination, but now I know that the simplest way to begin anything is, quite simply, to begin. I used to believe that life was a series of hopeful starts, awkward stops, and abrupt finishes. Now I know that it’s all beginnings, when it comes down to it. There is no need to strive or labor when you decide to take the path of least resistance, which is actually the only way you can channel the energy that life is made of. You allow whatever is present to course through you, whether this means marinating in your own awkwardness or flinging your inhibitions to the stars by the skin of your teeth and enabling your frozen concepts of what is possible to thaw out and dissolve. In other words, you get out of your own way.nnThe path of the Turned-On Woman mandates letting go of old patterns—not through effort, but through changing the focus of her attention. For me, at this juncture, it’s time to bid goodbye to the tried and true, to veer off road and hack through the darkness. I am reassured, however; as dense as the undergrowth may seem, I know that I have a guide along the way. The journey might turn up some unexpected delights and a few perils, but one thing's for sure—when you find yourself moving directly beneath the spotlight from a place of volition rather than resistance, it’ll never be dull. After all, if not now…when?nn nnThere is a movement of the Turned On Woman (TOW) that is in motion to inspire every woman any where to embrace themselves and their lives with a level of honesty and responsibility above and beyond the average. Join us