On Pointe

Photo credit: Fabrizio Ferri

Photo credit: Fabrizio Ferri

When I retired, it was the end of my career, and that’s still true. My career is over. I have gone back to the pure joy of what I feel when I dance.
— Alessandra Ferri

The prima ballerina Alessandra Ferri recently made headlines by emerging from retirement and triumphantly returning to the defining role of her career as the eponymous heroine of the balletic adaptation of ‘Romeo & Juliet’. Whilst most of the headlines have focused on Ms. Ferri’s age – she is 53, a far cry from the teenager she so expertly and beautifully brings to life onstage in her dancing – her statement on why she continues to dance is illuminating: she dances for pure joy. She dances because it is a way of being – she dances to live, to be alive.

So many people wait for the perfect moment to begin living, putting things off till there is more time, or till they retire, or some other ‘very good reason’. This kind of postponement feels justified and necessary, but it is no less of a lie we convince ourselves of. What might happen if we choose to live in the here and now, as is, and stop waiting for our lives to begin?

One potential pitfall of this attitude is a lack of clarity over what it means to live. Each individual carries within them a siren song of the heart – something that makes them feel alive and real. If this song isn’t clear to the individual, ‘living in the here and now’ might result in them living someone else’s song rather than their own, and feeling rather miserable for doing so. In counselling, I often encounter clients who work in areas they dislike, who are in relationships with people they feel distant from, or who expend a lot of themselves pursuing something that they aren’t sure will make them happy. Unlike Ms. Ferri, they are not living in the ‘pure joy’ of what is most true for themselves. Counselling and therapy are avenues toward clarifying what it means to be alive, to be in pure joy, and to live.

So many people wait for the perfect moment to begin living, not realizing that the pure joy of living as they are is eternal, present and there for the living at all times. Being alive means not only choosing to live in the moment, but to use that moment to seize purity of purpose with joy.