I’ve been reminiscing about the people who I’m most grateful for meeting. It comes down to the people who have given me joy by their creative talent. Bobo and Cutlass do it with food. Max does it with whimsical garnishes. Aunt Daisy does it with her zest for life. Then there’s Rodrigo, our tango teacher we took lessons from a few months ago.
Rodrigo is passionate about tango and doing it right. We didn’t know much about him, but when we did, it was surprising.
We met him again by accident on the street and had a chat about our progress with tango. We made a date to meet for lunch.
When Max and I arrived at the restaurant, he was already there waiting for us. Rodrigo is slender and compact, with the right sexy looks for the sultry dance. He wears dramatic slim fitting clothes and always looks like he’s ready to break into a tango – just turn on the music.
He shook Max’s hand. He took mine, bent over it and kissed it lightly. Smooth movements. Very correct and continental. Ooooooooh!
After ordering drinks, I asked him, “How did you get into tango?”
I asked him, “How did you get into tango?” He threw his head back and laughed. “By not being good at anything else.”
He threw his head back and laughed. “By not being good at anything else.” He swirled his drink and became serious. “I come from a poor family without much education. The only things my brothers did for fun was play baseball and soccer. I wasn’t good at sports and they bored me but then fate stepped in.
A troop of tango dancers, singers and musicians came to perform in our village. I had never seen such wondrous performances and fell completely in love with the sound and movement of tango. I had been waiting for this without knowing it. Tango defined my soul. ”
“That’s beautiful but how did you explain your passion to your family?” I asked.
He said, mouth turned down, “I didn’t. I knew they’d never understand my dreams of tango.” He shrugged. “I did the only thing I could. I ran away from home.”
I reached over and touched his hand. “That must have been painful.”
“Yes. You can never please everyone.” He paused, lost in thought. “I fled to Mexico City and got a laborer’s job. It didn’t pay much money but what I had I spent on tango lessons and I practiced at many milongas.”
My eyebrows rose. “Milongas?” I asked.
“Parties where a happier, quicker form of tango is danced.” He smiled, remembering. “Those were really good times and I made many friends. I was finally at home in my body and soul. I also discovered I had a respectable singing voice. I practiced and practiced until I became good.”
“You also sing?” I said. “I’m impressed.”
He grinned. “I also act. I created a modest regional theater from my house.” That same distant look came over him again and I knew he was remembering. “So, you see, I’ve made tango and theater my life.” He reached into his pocket. “I have tickets for a show at Theatro Rodrigo for tonight. Would you like to come?”
Without hesitation, I reached for the tickets and said, “We’d be delighted!”
He was silent for a moment, reflecting. “Tango is not necessary to life. It’s not like being a doctor or plumber or electrician.”
Max nodded. “Just like me. I am a caterer and I love to garnish food. Decorating food is not necessary to life either. But isn’t it wonderful to do something that is about bringing pleasure to others?”
Rodrigo smiled. “It energizes a world that needs to be comforted.”
I laughed. “I paint. That’s not necessary to sustain life either. I guess we would all be fired from a company that scratched non-essential jobs.”
“Ah, yes! We are non-essential!”
“But essential for the soul,” I said.
He bowed his head. “I agree.”
That night, we went to Theatro Rodrigo. Rodrigo treated the audience to a terrific performance in which he danced, sang and acted. The crowd cheered him with a standing ovation at the end. The theater was filled with good will, magic, imagination and laughter. Bravo!
To all who have not donated their non-essential work to others yet: Give your talent to the Universe that sadly needs it. Don’t hold back your storytelling, art, music, food, or any kind of creativity that cultivates joy. Be brave! You have more talent than you think. The world needs your comfort – now more than ever.
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