The Blind Dancer

by Paul Chubbuck

Last night at the contra dance
he stood with the rest of us
in two long lines, awaiting the caller’s instructions
before the music started.

The hand-written sign on his chest boldly read,
“I’m blind. Take my hand.”

“How can this work?”, I wondered.
These dances are hard enough for the sighted…
myriad ways of walking and turning around your partner and dozens of other dancers
in figures deliberately tricky for the fun of it,
stepping in time to live and lively fiddle music.

It takes a sharp ear, listening to the caller,
and quick feet.

He had those.

It also takes good eyes to see where to go,
who to meet,
whose hand to grasp next.

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But then the music started,
and it was clear he was no beginner.
He listened to the caller and understood the movements like the rest of us.

What he couldn’t always know was where to move next,
relative to the other dancers.

That’s where the sign came in.
It said, “Take my hand”.
Standing there, usually in the right place and time,
his outreached hand invited each of us to grasp and guide him to the next position in each moment.
So we did while he stepped timely in cooperation.

And the dance moved on smoothly.

And I saw how like that man I am…
life swirling around me like the other dancers
who seem to grasp the plan
better than I,
who can see where they are going
when I feel blind.

I wondered how he had vanquished that sense of incompetency
that sometimes brings me to my knees…
how he’d found the aplomb
to place himself in that mix,
at risk of incurring others’ impatience,
and dependent on the good will of unseen strangers.

I saw that the sign on his chest was no abdication,
and that, like him, I must do my best
to know where I am and to listen for guidance on where to move next.
But now also like him, I admitted that I need help,
that I can’t always see the next step.

And in my mind, I made a sign, or perhaps a prayer,
directed not only at those whose lives spin around mine,
but at the Great Caller.

It read “I’m blind. Take my hand.”

Paul Chubbuck is a practicing psychotherapist in Fort Collins, CO, using Somatic Experiencing® to help people release trauma, abuse, and loss. He may be reached at 970-493-2958 or through his website at

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