All I Can Do Is Dance



Sitting at the little balcony of my room at P guesthouse, I can see the Mon temple shining in the distance on the opposite bank of the lake. Today my teenagers, Awm and I are dancing on a hard tiled floor overlooking the lake. Yesterday, I tried to bring them to staccato and they gave me hell -- a rebellious, chaotic bunch. The girls were chatting, giggling and exploring every possible form of apathy, while the boys seized any opportunity to fight, mimic having sex with a column, or an invisible girl, provoking the girls. When I finally released them into chaos, it felt like dancing on the edge of a hormone-driven explosion of violence.

Afterwards, I wondered what had made them so tough so young. First I learned their names, then tried to get them to speak their language, Mon or Karen or Burmese, so I could hear it. They were suddenly very shy and only did it when we shouted at the top of our voices. We danced another wave and when we got to chaos some of them screamed and shouted to let their bodies release the pent-up energy.

Then we sat in a circle, to share our stories. I shared a difficult memory from childhood and Awm shared a happy one, so they had a choice. We first heard of accidents, which are a testimony to absent parents. “John” broke the pattern. His parents had to flee the Burmese army, his mother carried a sick baby in her arms and, when they finally reached a safe place in Thailand, she pulled back the cloth protecting his head to discover he was dead. As these stories emerge, they are restless, giggling and looking away. “Sometimes it’s better to cry when you are sad,” I say, tears in my voice.

Lek, a tough 17-year old boy with a tattoo and attitude, shares gratitude for the family who took them in when they finally reached Thailand after 5 days of walking in the forest when he was 3 and his brother 5. Sam Pong, the cool 19-year old guy, discovered that his mother was actually his grandmother; he shares the anger, the confusion, the sadness and starts crying. According to Awm, these survivors never cry. It is incredibly moving to see them so vulnerable.

Our sharing circle ends with Non Tchan, who begins her story and cannot continue because she is sobbing so hard. I move to hold her, we hold hands, we cry. I tell them what beautiful souls they are. Chaos has done its work. I wanted to sit down and cry but I had to teach another group.

-- LUCIE NEROT - 5Rhythms Teacher, Thailand - Feb 19th 2009