Tango is not only a fascinating dance, but also a fascinating philosophy, culture, and lifestyle. The pursuit of tango is the pursuit of connection, love, unity, beauty, harmony and humanity, i.e., an idealism that is not consistent with the dehumanizing reality of the modern world. The world divides us as individuals, but tango unites us as a people and species. In tango we are not individualists, feminists, nationalists, liberals, conservatives, Democrats, Republicans, etc., but interconnected and interdependent members of the human family. Tango calls us to tear down the walls, to build bridges, and to regain humanity through connection, cooperation, reconciliation and compromise. It is a dance that teaches the world to love.

May 24, 2016

Tolerance and Grit

In my spare time I enjoy fishing. Gu Feng depicts his fishing experience in a poem, "In the mist that shrouds the valley, by the stream that reflects the lush green bamboos and shiny red flowers, stood I in soft breeze, fishing in quietness. At dusk, I listened to the rain dripping on the pavilion. At dawn, I, holding an umbrella, in blue robe, walked in solitude along the stony path."

Pictorial! But I am not Gu Feng. The fun of fishing to me is in the bite, without which the relaxing scenery is not enough to make me content. The disposition of the fish is elusive. In some days I don't catch any. In most days two or three fish an hour is normal. But sometimes the fish suddenly scramble to snatch. You toss the lure, and they jump up to bite. One after another you can catch dozens in an hour. This happens only few times a year. My fancy for fishing, in addition to the soothingness of nature, comes mainly from the temptation of such spectacles. The addiction, therefore, is in the hope. In reality miracles are rare.

This situation is very much like dancing tango. The elegant venue, soft lighting, resplendent dresses, beautiful music, all are captivating, but not enough to make me happy without a good partner. One night, fortunately, you meet a person, whose height, figure, musicality, dance skill, manner and temperament are all compatible to yours. Like a perfect match made in heaven, the two of you become instant pals, giving rein to the dance that enables you not only to enjoy the seamless cooperation, but also the freedom like in an unrestrained solo. This experience changed your outlook on life, because it gave you a new understanding and hope for life. From then on, you go to the milonga again and again, week after week, hoping to re-experience that moment. But miracles come only by luck and not will. In my fourteen years of dancing tango in countless milongas, that experience only occurred few times, which, nonetheless, is still the reason I am addicted to tango, because I yearn to revisit that moment one more time. Tango is the search of a dream. In reality, however, miracles are rare.

We often forget that imperfection is the norm of life. To enjoy life, one needs to cherish the ordinary, which is not something most people are good at. Voltaire said: "What is tolerance? It is the consequence of humanity. We are all formed of fragility and error; let us pardon reciprocally each other's folly - that is the first law of nature." Of course, the appreciation of the ordinary is not enough. We all yearn to transcend the ordinary and become extraordinary. Excellence is the consequence of grit. Only by repeating the ordinary countless times can one achieve the extraordinary. Therefore, let us also encourage ourselves and be gritty. The miracle will happen as a result - that is the second law of nature.