Love is not Love
Elita Sohmer Clayman

Shakespeare said it well in Sonnet 116 though sometimes it is hard for the average person to decipher what he meant. Here are a few lines from 116

Love is not love
Which alters
When it alteration finds
Or bends with the remover to remove
O!no It is an ever fixed mark.

I am no Shakespearean scholar by any means. However I am interpreting it this way and possibly I am wrong. He means that when we love and things change, we still have to love and not be influenced by that change. We do not remove it. We have loved and will
continue to love when changes appear. We do not let it leave us for any reason at all.

This can be applied to our ballroom dancing in a way. Many of us take lessons with a coach and that costs lots of money. Many of us as seniors do not have the money to lay out for this hobby. It starts out as purely fun and to some of us that is not enough. We want more. We want to compete, we want to showcase in front of our dancing peers and lastly we want to excel in it for our own ego.

So we love this hobby or event or happening in our present life and we do not want to alter it in any way. We do not want to bend because it is a fixed mark in our today’s life.
As seniors, we need this thing called ballroom dancing because it enhances daily living, is a good exercise tool and it increases our kindness towards our self. We see our own being as a distinct and different person when dancing against the person we are in our daily life.It is as though we are two disparate personalities. We are family people and then we take on the personality of a different identity. That is good because we now are two special persons instead of the usual one.

Many of us look forward to this thing called dance that has entered our life and taken over it with great speed. The first night we took a lesson together, we went down to a record store to buy ballroom dance records. In those days, they were the large plastic ones which now are outdated and give way to tiny discs called DVDs. We bought about five ballroom dance records recorded for Arthur Murray Dance Studios which was a prominent dancing school. I was so proud to carry the bag from the record store into the house because it made me feel special that night.

We went downstairs to the large family room in our home and moved the furniture and practiced that night what we had learned. By then, it was like eleven o’clock in the evening because we had gone out after that first lesson for dinner. The dinner was for our daily eating and also a celebration of the new thing we had accomplished that night.

We tried so hard to remember what the coach taught us and then we decided from then on, we would take notes and then eventually I brought along a small audio recorder and recorded the lesson. There were no recording devices called camcorders then. So we relied on the audio tape and to hear the coach explaining the steps etc. It helped some and along with the written notes, we could practice.

I remember one day when my husband went to work and I was waiting for the time to go and pick up my son and daughter at school. I tried to practice myself and thought my goodness, what have I gotten us into? I had gotten into in reality the most promising thing I could attain as a couple and also for our mental and physical health. We were in our forties then and imagine now what it does for our health now as seniors.

Every time I watch Dancing with the Stars, I think of what we have accomplished. No flashy dances, no short and revealing costumes, no artificial smiles and no judges to put us down. We have achieved and brought to fruition the magic of show business coupled with the magic of being ballroom dancers. In so doing, we have attained a high perspective into how exciting and illuminating this activity can be perpetual, never ending and eternal.

I have many email pals that dance and that is how we became those email pals. I have never met more than one friend from my email list. I feel like I know them as well as I know other friends. I have pictures of them so I can place a picture face with the written email message. We discuss our families, our health, our dancing and best of all that we are all in this community of dancing. No matter how old we are, we are in the best society of them all- we are ballroom dancing people and we know we love it and we need no appraiser to judge us and to tell us how poorly we are doing or how good we are dancing.
We know that ourselves and as our dancing improves and
our confidence soars; we too will be as Shakespeare said not having our love altered or bending or removed because it is an ever fixed mark. A mark so bright we can see it with our eyes closed. Our eyes are open now and wide because we are at this point in our senior lives and we know for sure that this is love in a pure state. We adore this dancing part of our life and we are proud to display it and tell of it. Shakespeare was not talking about our activity, we know we have hit the mark and we are satisfied.

I am no Shakespearean maven but I can sum it up as this:

Ballroom dancing alters our life in a most positive way, so much so, that the alteration is with us forever.

Elita Sohmer Clayman
Baltimore, Maryland
April 2008

Keep on Dancing 


Published by René Zgraggen
Montgomery, AL