I was running on the treadmill at the gym last Tuesday (not nearly as good for me as running on a trail, but sometimes done is better than perfect, you know?) and, as sometimes happens on the treadmill, I was really, really, really bored.
The music wasn’t helping. The weird tv screen six inches from my face that kept suddenly turning itself on (reminding me that at some point in the last year I’ve grown to need reading glasses) wasn’t helping. Making up hill workouts and speed workouts that would let me fiddle with the controls every tenth of a mile…you guessed it- not working.
So I started looking around and being a total creeper checking out what everyone else was doing. I tried to be surreptitious about it, but I suspect I failed as the guy on the treadmill next to me started covering his screen with his hand every time my head turned his way.
I caught myself getting pretty obsessed with the Zumba class going on in the aerobics room. Specifically, one person in that Zumba class.
In the sea of hip shaking women, there was a kid of around 12 years old and he was INTO it. Sweat dripped from his ears and he wasn’t missing a single move. Knee up, step right, kick the hips out, and then swing that butt around and drop it like it’s hot.
This kid was on fire.
But his dance moves weren’t what captivated me.
He was UNAPOLOGETIC in his utter and absolute deeeee-light.
His eyes were shining and he was grinning and every once in awhile he’d just let out a whoop at the top of his lungs like he just couldn’t hold it in for one more second.
And I could not take my eyes off of him.
He’d laugh when he made a mistake. He’d whoop when he landed a move.
He was working his ass off and he was totally focused on doing his thing.
He didn’t notice when a few boys his age stopped in front of the glass on their way to the basketball gym and paused to watched him, self-consciously mocking him just a little bit.
He didn’t notice the women nearest him looking at him with slightly patronizing “oh-isn’t-that-adorable” looks.
He was busy rocking what mattered to him.
I couldn’t get enough.
And I couldn’t help noticing how often one of his whoops would lead to a few other grinning whoops in the room. Or how those women near him swung their hips a little more freely after they were done being patronizing.
He wasn’t there to inspire anyone. He was there to do something he loved, to enjoy himself, to have a damn good time.
But guess what?
He was inspiring.
His own unabashed freedom and joy and work granted all of us paying attention permission to do the same.
By merely being himself and enjoying himself, he offered us all permission to be ourselves, to enjoy ourselves. To whoop when the mood strikes.
We forget this sometimes.
We forget that by living well and happily, we grant permission to others to do the same.
We forget that by enjoying ourselves, we allow others to feel free to enjoy themselves.
Inspiration doesn’t always require Gandhi-like martyrdom. Sometimes it’s as simple as shaking your ass to a good beat and whooping for the hell of it.
So let’s get out there and get whooping! The world needs us to go have some unapologetic fun. For real.