It came to me in a dream, as my stories often do. Or I should say the glimmer of a dream, shining shards of light cresting a hill. A hill I knew, or thought I did, remembered from somewhere like a déjà vu whispering from the periphery of the mind.
Up an incline, into the light, then down down down smack into a great old and dilapidated coliseum, where the kids inside were playing stairball, dribbling a basketball up and down enormous rickety rows of seating. And next to it a dancehall, the steady beat of country music drawing people in like lemmings over reality’s edge.
I had never seen such. Even in a dream.
This was a different world. And I followed along into a place of myths and magical realism, a term I’d never before heard. At least at the time. And as with how stories come, this one raced off before me.
I met in this ethereal world a host of characters from my dream—Diana, the white witch of Sociable, Texas, who kept loosely organized a host of folks living in that medial land, although close to towns that I knew in real life. Like the narrator of the story, Paula Ann Fairbanks, I fairly fell into their midst, listening to myths and stories told on Diana’s porch, many of which I knew. Although some I had never heard came from her lips.
Things in those tales are not always as they seem. And so the book became a myth within a myth, it beginning in one direction then weaving around and around and always inward into something deeper indeed. It was at the time and then through revisions and still ‘til recent days, as I went over the conversions time and again, a joy to be there. Because myths are, in essence, the stories of the spirit.
I Just Came here to Dance is at its heart a story about purpose. About finding one’s purpose amidst the passions, and losing those to the mundane, then seeking them out again. It’s the story of my life, although not in the events told.
And the way to there is through the heart of wisdom—whatever you perceive her to be. Whether you call it the Holy Spirit or the doll in your pocket, intuition speaks from that strong still voice in your breast, saying, “Turn this way, not that . . .” Always there. Always, always, always, although so often the voice is muted, the guidance just out of reach like that ephemeral déjà vu. But even then, you get glimpses of Lady Wisdom, as if Sophia herself had called your name, leaving her breadcrumbs as a map to the world you need to find. In the quiet of a soughing wind, be still and hear her voice.
In writing that book I learned, as did Paula Ann, who God was.
I always learn enormous amounts from the books I write. They instruct me, guide me, comfort me, as if children born already wise and knowing and trying to teach me what life is about. What a blithering idiot I’d be without them!
And sometime, some place, I’ll find the thread of that story again, go back to that porch, to Sociable’s dancehall, to the stories that Diana tells now from the crone years. I don’t know when or how or why (I never do in the beginning), but I do know that. I will go with much trepidation (perhaps the courage to do so has not yet been found?), as one thing I already know—the time on Earth for Diana will then be short.
So right now I leave her as she is, a woman fierce in her wisdom, compassion brimming from the sharpness of her tongue, vibrant and healthy and loving and laughing and always, always telling stories—the exact ones I need to hear.
That puts courage in my breast, the knowing she’s alive and well. Enough so to keep digging deeper into the new book at hand, which, too, explores passions versus the arid landscape of mundane life, and how those two conjoin.
It is the process of being human, no? Living in this world and not of this world, keeping balance between earthly existence and spiritual flight. Not slogging too much in the one or twisting off into the magic of the other.
As Paula Ann learns by book’s end, and I did too: “The dance itself is always changing. So, too, the steps we take within it. And once you catch the rhythm, the flow becomes endless.”
In this life of psychological smoke and mirrors, how do you find that balance?