You Will Know the Dance

by tobias crabtree

Recently I peeked inside an elementary school window as I found my way to a breakfast sandwich. Through the smudged windows, I could see upper case and lower case letters on single panels over the chalkboard. There were simple math problems with objects showing that mathematics can be used at the grocery store while counting bananas. It takes very little for me to leave the present and find myself amongst the varied and shimmering moments of the past. Them days sitting with all the other little beasts in the classroom, waiting on time to pass. Waiting on release. In the days of childhood, the imagination is a giant machine and it never sleeps. Wonders are constant. There are gateways to other worlds and there are other worlds. All this, as I make my way to a breakfast sandwich.

I have always been prone to long forays of imagination. I’m sure when I’m an old man it’ll make me seem crazier, and maybe that’s what crazy is — long, wandering trips into the mind. I look forward to the windows of time where I can really lean into my thoughts. I find these little windows late night, when I lie down in my bed, in that period of time before night dreams where I can think of things of the past and place them in my present. Sometimes I make shoes, new designs for running with toes out in the open. Sometimes I am building words from thought, creating a way to communicate ideas and feelings. I have invented machines for travel; reinventing the wheel over and over. I’ve hashed out catches for the drawers in my toyota dolphin, funny knock knock jokes for kids (usually referring somehow to poop), ways to hang swings from trees, rigging for climbing, and drawings and drawings and drawings of them all. I like to think about the drawings I will do before I build something, sometimes even choosing the pens that I will draw with and the technique that will work best. I even like to think about breathing that helps me think, and then I breathe and see if it works. I know this all sounds like an exaggeration, but I’m not kidding. I look forward to those spaces where I’m free to think unencumbered. All this is free and for the having, all we gotta do is take ahold of our minds, and use them.

My head and the machinery within seem to work best when I’m endeavoring something else. Running is the most obvious activator. It’s as if my footfalls are shaking my belfry and loosing the bats that are my thoughts, each thought it’s own little universe. As I run, the thoughts begin to fly and I am swept up and away by the whirlwind of movement. I often must limit what I choose to think about lest I chase everything and come away with nothing. Thought half developed becomes non-sense later on. So I run and I think and I run like some older lion, choosing well from the herd and chasing with intent.

These thoughts and dreams are not so different from memories. The veil between the two is thin like vellum, I can see how one might become lost in the midst of yesterday’s now and today’s revery. One little slip of the mind, one shimmer, and the veil falls down leaving our senses topsy-turvy. Perhaps these are the ones walking and talking to the past, revisiting old problems while pushing huge carts filled with their excesses and possibles. I always think about that — we are all just a little knock on the head away from strange meanderings. And me, in my thinking vessel. If I were maybe a bit more focused or streamlined, like the bright ones with whom I’m acquainted that have minds that shine with perfect light. Then I see myself, in this veering and rickety craft, doors and windows flapping in the wind. I am flying and tethered to the rails for fear of slipping out. I am running wildly between openings in order to see the world that is an endless stream of wonders. All the failures and falls are braided into the summits and epiphanies, this swirling life. This blink of me. This spark of you. We are all a synapse in the mind of the universe, flashing our existence in order to be a part of it all.

My feet are running on a turning world. The world is spinning around a yellow sun, brother and sister planets spaced out in immaculate orbits all around. All together, we hang in the milky way galaxy, an ocean of stars, blue and yellow and red. Beyond the arm of Orion and into the darker universe, there is an elegant dance and we were born from it’s music. If you find a place out under the stars, and if you breathe and be still, and if you listen from the inside out, you will hear the song. You will know the dance.