I believe Life is a School with levels and degrees (all the way to heaven). No diplomas delivered or needed.Each chapter has a set of lessons we can master although the choice not to is always available. Then there is what we want and we can learn at every step of the way. We learn when we´re ready, not before. And that applies to everyone. So be gentle 😉
One of the reasons I decided to move out of Egypt – leaving behind a successful career of 8 years, my house (not home), friends, orchestra and everything I´d built, so far – was precisely because it stopped teaching. It was my college, for a long while, an intensive course on Oriental Dance, music, culture, religion, politics, economics, madness, life and then some. Then the course ended. The diploma was delivered: the success I´d earned with serious, tough, inspired by love work.
Egypt wasn´t teaching me anymore. Well, not exactly. Egypt was still teaching me but only things I wish I´d never learn. Like twisting people´s neck, hating ignorance to the point of blindness or shooting men for sexually harassing me in the street on a daily basis. That kind of stuff.
What I wanted to learn was under my belt – I´d rescued what I needed in relation to my craft – Oriental Dance – and to myself – who am I and which unique gifts do I bring to the world.
Once I had the courage to take a decision – I´m not staying where I´m not learning/growing anymore; next chapter, please! -, the world opened up to me. Life rewards courage.
I always knew this was the logical sequence of events: first, I´d have to go deep into the core of Oriental Dance, working in Egypt and learning from it (because you can work in Egypt and learn s…&##$% from it) and after I´d share it with the whole world. For me, this path was always been obvious.
Some of the lessons I´ve learnt in Egypt are public – I´ve shared them on my first published book “The Secrets of Egypt – Dance, Life & Beyond” (if interested, check link in the end of this post). There is more, much more.
From Egypt to the world where I´ve been teaching, performing and lecturing for the last 3 years. The lessons haven´t stopped, no ladies & gentlemen. I expected some kind of breathing space, a time lapse, a period where my brain could rest but no. Hell, no. Sky, no. Everybody who´s anybody said no, you gotta keep learning, girl! So I did. I do.
Here are some of the lessons the World College has been teaching me in these last years:
- We´re big and small. Big in the power we carry within – enough to change the world, starting with our private world. Small because the world is wide, varied and much richer than we can ever imagine. Several life times are not enough to grasp the immensity of this amazing place.
2. Egyptian Oriental Dance is everywhere, reaching the tiniest places on earth. The resilience and expansion of this art, despite all the prejudices and obstacles it has faced throughout History, speaks louder than any compliment I may offer it.
3.There are many ways of seeing Oriental Dance and Life itself. Each head has its own idea of “ideal”, each heart wants what it wants. Don´t presume others see and feel the way you do – humans are much more complex, and interesting, than that.
4. You can do authentic, out of the box, high quality work that is out of the commercial bullshit realm and still be successful. I´ve been doing it for 14 years, since I started launching Oriental Dance in Portugal, my homeland. Quality – and a lot of continuous, serious, passionate, intelligent – work can compensate for the fact that you´re not offering what the market is asking for. Being the black sheep isn´t easy but it pays off if you have the talent and managing skills to make it work.
5. Judgment is a waste of time. It really is. As I observe people from different countries, cultures and educational/religious backgrounds, I become aware there´s no way I can get into their heads and know what they´re thinking and what drives them. I remind myself that others may also find my attitudes weird – I´m not the only one who gets shocked with other people´s attitudes and choices. Somewhere along the way I must have shocked people as well, unintentionally, just being. Live and let live may be an interesting key.
6. We teach by example, not by imposition of what we decided was our truth. Reminder: everybody has a personal version of the truth. Question: who can tell who´s right? Maybe reality is so rich it can be seen from different perspectives. Just saying 😉
7. Life is Flow, continuous change, mutability. Trying to stop it is a waste of time and energy that will only frustrate you. Learning how to ride the waves of what it is right NOW – in dance as in life – may be a good idea. Try it!
8. The right people – and circumstances – show up, for the greater good, when they have to. The same happens in the opposite direction: some people and circumstances disappear for the greater good (that includes your greater good).
9 It´s not worth to be a people pleaser. No matter how amazing you are, trying your best to be the person you wish everybody else was, there will always be people who don´t like you. Just because. Plus: life is too short to say, do or focus on things that don´t make your heart sing.
10. By watching dancers from different countries, I´ve realized diversity is good. Even dancers who don´t have a clue about what they´re doing are necessary; bad dance is useful, it offers a guideline of a peculiar sort (what not to do kind of guideline). Ignorance has a place in the world; immaturity too. Even arrogance. There are lessons to be taken from everything and everyone.
11. I spent 10 years of my life living, working and dealing with men 24 hours per day. My Egyptian orchestra was composed by men, most of my assistants were men, my bosses, clients who hired me to perform and friends were men. That changed since I´ve started travelling the world for work. Although I miss the testosterone – I L-O-V-E testosterone -, I´m falling in love with The Feminine. Let me tell you one thing, in case you haven´t noticed yet: there are a LOT of fabulous women out there. And I mean FABULOUS. I have nothing but respect and deep admiration for my Sisters.
12. Life´s a Journey – a magical one. I´ve learnt to dream big, always higher, while dettaching myself from those dreams and opening the door to dreams I didn´t know I had. That way our little, personal world can expand as much as the big, universal world does.
13. Love – towards oneself, first, and towards others – is The Answer for everything. It´s a cliché, I know. Still true.