I got my blender a decade ago as a wedding present. I had registered for the cheapest option there was because I really only knew of one use for blenders – making margaritas – and I didn’t care if it was fancy as long as it served its purpose. Since I got pregnant approximately a millisecond after the wedding, it probably only made a handful of margaritas. Lately, I discovered a smoothie recipe that promised eternal youth and so I had to dig it back out.
The past decade has not been entirely kind to it. Like me, it’s kind of beat, cracked in a few places and bulging in others, and I found out the hard way that there is no longer any safety “off” mechanism for when the top isn’t securely on (my first smoothie attempt blended onto my hair, face, and ceiling). But beyond all that, holy crap this thing is loud.
When I turn it on it sounds a lot like someone is kick-starting a Harley on top of my kitchen counter. “I’m going to turn on the blender!” I warn from the kitchen, lest my family thinks we’re under an air-raid attack and starts hiding under furniture.
My warning still falls flat on the youngest, though, as my baby-who-is-no-longer-a-baby has the disadvantage of still being, well, young. What I’ve started doing to keep him from freaking out is dancing. I swear, deep in that awful grinding-motor noise, is an undercurrent of what sounds a lot like a beat, and I stand in front of it and shake my booty along with it. He watches me intently, the expression on his face half confusion and half sheer terror, and then his foot starts to tap.
It’s slow at first, but soon he’s found that undercurrent of a beat and we are synchronized. Emboldened, I play the air guitar, and his fists unclench and his arms start to wave. The blender blares its ungodly racket, and I jump, spin, rattle my bones. There’s a flicker of a smile on his face as his own diaper-clad butt starts to wag. We’re alternately the Rockettes, back up dancers in a Beyonce video, and the undead in “Thriller.” The smoothies are temporarily forgotten in the heat of the dance until I smell the smoke of the motor.
He continues to sway gently even after I turn off the blender. Maybe the silence is just too heavy after all that noise, but there is something about him, his eyes still locked on me, that makes my breath catch in my throat. There’s a lesson there.
What if we all danced, even when we were terrified? Especially when we were terrified?
The truth is I’ve been pretty terrified lately. There’s some pretty scary shit going on out there in the world, and I’m worried. I’m worried about my friends and my kids and my country and my freedom and the deep rift splitting our country into two. I’m worried about our future, about what I am going to see the next time I open my Facebook feed, and about what kind of world is going to be waiting for this boy dancing in my kitchen when he is old enough to step out into it. I’m not good at fear. More often than I like to admit, I give into the fear. I cower. I hide.
What if, instead, I danced?
What if I danced until the fear didn’t feel so heavy and my heart rate had increased enough to pump some blood into my limbs so that they could carry me to a place of action, a place of activism, a place where I felt like I was able to make a difference? What if I scooped up this little boy in my arms and we danced ourselves into a place where we had faith and hope and remembered that despite all evidence to the contrary lately, most people are good and love wins and yes, even two little people in a kitchen drinking smoothies have the power to make a difference?
And what if the answer wasn’t in getting rid of the fear but dancing through it?
So underneath the smoothie recipe instructions that I’d scrawled quickly on the back of yet another bill, I added the following:
Blend all ingredients. Dance vigorously. Go out and change the world.