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Dancing All the Dances as Long as I Can
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Dancing All the Dances as Long as I Can
Dancing All the Dances as Long as I Can
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From NPR News, this is WEEKEND EDITION. I'm Liane Hansen.

Unidentified Man#1: I believe in mystery.

Unidentified Woman#1: I believe in family.

Unidentified Man#2: I believe in being who I am.

Unidentified Man#3: I believe in the powers of failure.

Unidentified Man#4: And I believe normal life is extraordinary.

Unidentified Man#5: This I believe.

HANSEN: Today's This I Believe essay comes from writer Robert Fulghum. He's best known for his book "All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten." Fulghum was parish minister of Unitarian Churches for many years. He also taught painting and philosophy. Fulghum turns 70 this year. Nowadays, he splits his time between Seattle and the Greek Island of Crete.

Here's our series curator independent producer Jay Allison.

Mr. JAY ALLISON (Producer; Co-author, "This I Believe: The Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men and Women"): If anyone has devoted himself to the notion of credo, it is Robert Fulghum. His most popular book opens with the fact that every spring he undertakes the writing of a personal statement of belief, the same task that defines our series. Personal belief is Fulghum's beat. When he sat down to write for us, though, he struck on a subject that's not in his books, but at something you could fairly say that he's obsessed with these days.

Here's Robert Fulghum with his essay for This I Believe.

Mr. ROBERT FULGHUM (Author, "All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten"): I believe in dancing. I believe it is in my nature to dance by virtue of the beat of my heart, the pulse of my blood and the music in my mind. So I dance daily.

The seldom-used dining room of my house is now an often-used ballroom — an open space with a hardwood floor, stereo and a disco ball. The CD-changer has six discs at the ready: waltz, swing, country, rock 'n' roll, salsa and tango.

Each morning when I walk through the house on the way to make coffee, I turn on the music, hit the shuffle button and it's dance time. And I dance alone to whatever is playing. It's a form of existential aerobics, a moving meditation.

Tango is a recent enthusiasm. It's a complex and difficult dance, so I'm up to three lessons a week, three nights out dancing, and I'm off to Buenos Aires for three months of immersion in tango culture.

The first time I went tango dancing I was too intimidated to get out on the floor. I remembered another time I had stayed on the sidelines, when the dancing began after a village wedding on the Greek island of Crete. The fancy footwork confused me. Don't make a fool of yourself, I thought. Just watch.

Reading my mind, an older woman dropped out of the dance, sat down beside me, and said, if you join the dancing, you will feel foolish. If you do not, you will also feel foolish. So, why not dance? And, she said she had a secret for me. She whispered, if you do not dance, we will know you are a fool. But if you dance, we will think well of you for trying.

Recalling her wise words, I took up the challenge of tango. A friend asked me if my tango-mania wasn't a little ambitious. Tango? At your age? You must be out of your mind.

On the contrary: It's a deeply pondered decision. My passion for tango disguises a fearfulness. I fear the shrinking of life that goes with aging. I fear the boredom that comes with not learning and not taking chances. I fear the dying that goes on inside you when you leave the game of life to wait in the final checkout line.

I seek the sharp, scary pleasure that comes from beginning something new — that calls on all my resources and challenges my mind, my body and my spirit, all at once. My goal now is to dance all the dances as long as I can, and then to sit down contented after the last elegant tango some sweet night and pass on because there wasn't another dance left in me.

So, when people say, Tango? At your age? Have lost your mind? I answer, no, and I don't intend to.

Mr. ALLISON: Robert Fulghum with his essay for This I Believe.

Fulghum is in Buenos Aires right now for his three months of tango immersion -two hours in the morning, music over lunch, two hours in the afternoon and then dancing all night. We asked if he thinks it might be hard to adjust when he comes back. He said, I may not come back.

We hope you might accept our invitation to write a statement of your belief at our Web site You'll find details and you can see 1,000 of others who've written.

For This I Believe, I'm Jay Allison.

HANSEN: Jay Allison is co-editor with Dan Gediman, John Gregory and Viki Merrick of the book "This I Believe: The Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men and Women."

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