Serendipity Dance

At Sunrise.  Coming into Sunrise Aid Station 24 hours into a 100 mile run.

If you get the choice…I hope you dance. Lyrics by Lee Ann Womack. Photograph by Seamore Nautical Spirits.

In some ways, my ITunes playlist resembles my land based closet. It contains more songs than I really need.   I go through phases where I only listen to the same songs, over and over. Then by serendipity a song I haven’t played in a very long time catches my attention and it’s like uncovering a forgotten pair of sandals or an old favorite bikini. I hit the play button and our attachment to one another is rekindled.

The song, I Hope You Dance, by Lee Ann Womack is one of those songs that had dropped off my playlist favorites. Back when I downloaded the song, the inspiring words and tempo took the edge off of an otherwise intolerably long, lonesome, and blazing hot Phoenix summer time run.   Preparing my legs and mind for a 100 mile endurance race, the simplest way to log a bunch of miles was to run close to home rather than use time driving to a premier running location up in the cool, crisp air of Flagstaff. But, it was inevitable that 6-8 hours of running in an oven would lead to fixating on quitting. A cool comfortable house with a backyard swim has a mighty pull over gritty, hot, asphalt pounding.   Resisting the voices in my head to skip the miles, go home, and chill out were overcome by the voices of Lee Ann Womack, Jimmy Buffett, Lady Gaga, Guns and Roses, and Cher. Oh, and the boys at Circle K.

A very hot afternoon of running, I stumbled into the store and was greeted by two guys who took a cross eyed look at the sweaty, scarlet faced, salty heap coming through the door. With one finger on the 9 of 911, the other suggested I cool off in the Beer Cave with a Big Gulp of Mountain Blue Blast Power Aid. Hallelujah!  Lee Ann’s words, “When you get the choice to sit it out or dance, I hope you dance,” were my cue to leave the cave for another round of craziness; reluctant, but none the less willing to keep running.   I credit the Beer Cave and a host of songs for helping me keep it together that summer.

Mexico Photos by Gail 022This summer my runs are too short to warrant time in the Beer Cave; my closet is in need of major organizing; and I’m rediscovering songs on my ITunes playlist. Still replaying the events of sailing Seamore Pacific with Captain Chameleon, from San Diego to the Sea of Cortez, I listen to the words of I Hope You Dance and relate to it differently than I did as a Beer Cave tenant. “I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean” is a humble reminder that ME, MY, and I are trivial… at a comical level. There is nothing that I bring to the ocean or take from the ocean that tops another. My affinity for the ocean and a seafaring life is teensy tiny potatoes. Yet, with social networking and the attention that comes with it, I can be fooled into thinking that what I am thinking and doing is super interesting. But it took years for Captain James Cook to map the Pacific Ocean, disclose the discoveries that he made, and receive “great job!” (a.k.a Facebook Like). His life and accomplishments are truly amazing; in the super spud category.Trail


So why the deep thought about social networking, potatoes, and the lyrics of I Hope You Dance? Well, just after I found the song buried on my play list, Captain Chameleon and I met up with friends in California for old fashion, face time. Enough Facebook visiting, I wanted person to person visiting. The event was the San Diego 100 mile Endurance Race. A special friend was there to run her fourth 100 mile race and a friend I met through her was also going to be there. It was a choice to be with friends and enjoy life outside the status quo.  To be in Cleveland National Forest at 3 am, looking up at the stars, waiting for frayed, tired runners ascending from a canyon in search of boiled potatoes for nourishment, blister relief, and encouraging words like “great job,” was a rush. I silently thought to myself as I looked around at fellow star gazers, “We are out here dancing to one of Life’s tunes.” Instead of sitting it out, we were here in Cleveland National Forest, under the stars, feeling small beside the ocean.   I don’t own a smart phone so I couldn’t share with the world what I was doing at that very moment. So, undistracted by any gadgets, I simply sat there under the stars, listening for my friend’s voice and shuffled steps to announce her arrival from the canyon.

Until my friend crossed the finish line, I had time to marvel at others choreographing their own style of dance; volunteers, parents, spouses, and children cheering the runners onward. Some danced with experience, others not so much. I came home from our weekend in California with a renewed conviction for simple kindness, simple adventure, and simply being present.Haul it


Three days after meeting our friends in California, Captain Chameleon and I drove to Missouri for my cousin’s daughter’s wedding. It was great to be in the presence of family and friends. Facebook time had afforded me information about what was generally going on with each person but I had missed their voices, their expressions, their nuances. At the reception, before things started winding up on the dance floor, I had a rare chance to visit with Uncle Blondie, a quiet, hardworking man who married my Aunt Blondie. The mother of the bride and I were little girls when Uncle Blondie married our Aunt in the city park. We thought the wedding was SO romantic and that Aunt Blondie looked like a princess in her baby blue wedding dress and Chantilly lace veil. Catching up, after talking about blue wedding dresses, and before the evening’s champagne toast, he talked about a recent stressful event in his life and the ire’s of going from working for himself to working for someone else. He referenced a line from Lee Ann’s song; “Where one door closes, I hope another opens” as a belief he holds onto. There you have it…serendipity.

Blades of grass


Others who I admire for their dancing:

  • My brother and sister-in-law for shuttling their kids to practice and private pitching lessons, and cheering them through hours, and hours, and hours of baseball and softball games. They have beautiful tan lines and great kids to show for it.


  • For Maw and Papa for driving 8 hours because their eight year old granddaughter really (really, really) wanted to go to the wedding. She looked beautiful dancing with her Papa. If you ask her what the best part of the evening was, she would say that besides dancing with Papa, she got to talk and dance with the bride.


  • Our friends Geo and Ni, they plant trees, a garden, and fruits of love with their 18 month old daughter.


  • Our sailing friends Happy Dance and Magic Carpet, both are scattered about the Sea of Cortez. We enjoy reading of your adventures. Unless we see you before then, make room for Seamore Pacific in 6 months.


  • Running buddies.  Without them…I’d have sat it out and missed the dance.



Francis and Henri Matisse


Nature’s dance


Drilled Beach Glass

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4 thoughts on “Serendipity Dance

  1. You’re writing brings me back to that long starry night. Did you sleep at all? You were there at every starlit stop. Seeing you was like being wrapped in my favorite cozy blanket. After suffering rocky mountain canyons I never wanted to leave the comfort of your care. Thank you for being there, for being my real face time friend, and for the dance.

  2. Well said. I love that song . It’s all about perspective, right? As much as I would like to think that in charge…reality rears it’s head and reminds me that,for the zillion to time, I am not….thank God.

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