Monthly Archives: September 2013

Let’s Hold Each Other and Dance

As the anniversary of 9/11 approaches I would like to tell a story that has only an oblique relevance to education but says much about the strengths of humanity.

I went to live in the USA in January of 2001, leaving my grown up daughter behind in Australia. I missed her desperately. I was rocked by the events of 9/11 nine months later. As an assistant principal in my first American school, a school located deep in the middle of a highly militarized part of the country, I found myself being asked to deal with advice to parents and to teachers. I will never lose the image of walking the hallways and discovering a TV set on in every classroom, the teacher’s eyes glued to the screens and the children at their desks and tables, confused and fearful. As hard as it was, my first step was to have all those TV sets turned off. Teachers were in shock and the children did not need to see those images unmediated by a loving parent to hold them close.

As the day progressed more and more parents came to collect their children and take them home. They knew something profound had just happened, that might change their lives forever. They had no idea what might come next.

My daughter’s birthday was at the end of the month and I wanted to buy her something in time to mail it back to Australia. A couple of days after the tragedy of the towers I was in a book store in our local shopping mall. Browsing through the books I came across one with a CD attached. It contained a poem entitled “I Hope You Dance”.

My daughter has dance in her blood. Her father was, among other things, a ballet dancer. I find it impossible to keep my feet still if the photo copier starts to kick out a decent rhythm in the school office. It was inevitable that I would be drawn to this title.

I asked the shop assistant if I might listen to the CD and she put it on the store’s player. As we listened, we both began to weep. I was crying because I was missing my beautiful girl so much. She explained the reasons for her tears. She had just received a phone call from her brother, telling her that he was safe. He worked in the World Trade Building in New York.

As the song played we stood hugging each other in the middle of that store, tears rolling down our faces. Two women who had never met, but had been brought together by circumstances and were giving each other comfort. I don’t know what the other shoppers made of this. Perhaps not too much. All emotions were so high in those days that a couple of weeping women might not have looked much out of place.

I bought the CD and sent it to my girl.

Here are the word to that song, written by Mark Daniel Sanders and Tia Sillers and sung by Lee Ann Womack

I hope you never lose your sense of wonder;
You get your fill to eat but always keep that hunger;Image
May you never take one single breath for granted;
God forbid love ever leave you empty handed.
I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean;
Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens.
Promise me that you’ll give faith a fighting chance,
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance

I hope you dance
I hope you dance

I hope you never fear those mountains in the distance;
Never settle for the path of least resistance.
Living might mean taking chances, but they’re worth taking,
Loving might be a mistake, but it’s worth making.
Don’t let some Hellbent heart leave you bitter;
When you come close to selling out, reconsider;
Give the heavens above more than just a passing glance,
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance,

I hope you dance,
I hope you dance.

I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean;
Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens.
Promise me that you’ll give faith a fighting chance;
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance,

Dance.

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