Down to my core


I’ve got pretty good balance. In yoga classes, my tree pose is perfectly passable. And that’s on one foot. So you would think I should have no trouble standing in a crowded bus, two feet planted firmly on the ground, leaning nonchalantly on the handrail, headphones in, phone in hand. Right?

Oh. So. Wrong.

It’s all going so well. I even remember to look up from my phone as we cross the Harbour Bridge – a stunning view no matter how many times you look at it. Once we are across, I scroll through my playlists looking for something to follow Post Malone’s ‘I Fall Apart’, a beautifully raw and soulful song about heartbreak. And then I enter a parallel universe where his song unwittingly becomes the soundtrack to a tragic fall from grace.

The bus jerks suddenly (‘Surprised when you caught me off guard’) and I fall apart. All over the lady standing in front of me. (‘Ooh, I fall apart.’) As if in slow motion, I crash into her backpack (which is on her back) and then keep falling. I’m falling so hard (‘Harder than the liquor I pour’), and with such conviction that I push her off the step she is on. Thankfully, she has better balance than I do and steadies herself.

I try to find something to hold on to but the people closest to my awkward and unintended bus-dancing are on their phones so no one’s hands are free. I am also apologising to a backpack whilst hoping the lady attached to it is amused rather than annoyed.

Balance still eludes me. The lady with the backpack now becomes not just my victim but my cushion. (‘Ooh, I fall apart.’) I finally stop flailing about like an elephant on ice-skates and find stillness. Of body but not of mind. (‘Too many thoughts running through my brain.’)

The guy who is seated next to me – seated so comfortably that he is able to play Solitaire on his phone – looks at me pitifully and asks,
“Are you ok?”
No, I’m mortified
“Yes, thank you,” are the words that come sheepishly out of my mouth.

I’m embarrassed because I should have been holding on to the handrails. With my hand, not my hip. I should not have been scrolling through playlists and endangering the lives comfort levels of my fellow passengers, most of whom just want to get to work without anyone invading their personal space and preferably without having to make any eye contact whatsoever.

I tuck my phone under my arm and hold on to the handrails with both hands. Partly because the bus is still jerking but mostly to make a statement: I acknowledge my stupidity and am ensuring I don’t harm anyone else in the 5 minutes left of this bus journey. Good thing too because Backpack Lady subtly glances over her shoulder to check that the clumsy oaf behind her is actually holding on now. (‘I can’t let go’)

The embarrassment does not subside. (‘Try to brush it off but it keep on going.’)

I apologise to the lady again as I get off the bus. She says “No, you’re alright,” which is Aussie for “That’s alright.” After I used her as a human shield against being propelled forward into a potential human-domino situation, this is incredibly kind and I want to hug her.

But for some reason she is walking rather briskly away from me. (‘Fool me twice and it’s all my fault.’)

©2018 Seetha Dodd

The Key

make a wish

“People disappoint, so set your expectations low,”
A weary soul once told me this, many moons ago.

But I was young and hopeful, so I thought I’d take a chance
And strode down Optimism Street without a second glance.

The path was rough, uneven, not at all like I had thought;
The people, dark and jaded, seemed unhappy with their lot.

Kindness always wins. I’ll keep my expectations high.
“But people disappoint,” the world said with a wistful sigh.

The further down the path I went, the more Heartache I found
And every time I tried to rise, Truth pulled me to the ground.

What’s the point? I asked the world, of trying to be true?
The world didn’t answer, it was disappointed too.

Then I met a woman with a shawl and shining eyes;
She took me to a tiny shack that she called ‘Paradise’.

She asked me why I looked so sad; I told her of my woe
That Happiness had flown away not too long ago:

I had it once, I held it tight, so tight it could not breathe.
And then I put it in a cage and begged it not to leave.

When I was out exploring, one dark and jaded day,
Someone opened up the cage and let it fly away.

I tried so hard to lock it up, to keep it safe, you see.
“Oh, my dear,” she said, “but then you gave away the key.”

People disappoint, I said, It’s no use being kind.
Every time I look for Hope, it’s Misery I find.

With shining eyes she looked straight through my dark and jaded heart;
She took my hand and led me all the way back to the start.

“Happiness,” she said, “is waiting for you every day.
But first let me show you what’s been standing in your way.”

She handed me a mirror; I was horrified to see
The one who disappointed most, staring back at me.

©2018 Seetha Dodd

Dance like everyone’s watching


I hadn’t been to a dance class in a while. So I was really excited to walk into the dance studio again for JFH (Jazz, Funk & Hip-hop).

The class starts off with the usual 30 minute warm-up of dynamic stretches, dance moves and a (hard-) core workout that lasts an entire song. Hello, abs! We also do some walking. Yes, walking. But not the regular, right-foot in front of left-foot kind. No, my friends. This is a dance class. So we Strut. We Swagger. We channel our inner Chanel model and prance like we mean it.

The instructor (who is, by the way, amazingly talented and very JFH) tells us to imagine we have just spotted ‘a hottie’ in a club and are striding towards him. Hmm. I quickly come up with a more suitable analogy in my head. Imagine…….[insert your own fantasy].

Then it is time to learn the routine.

“This one is old-school,” the instructor says. Ooh, yay, I think, I wonder what it’s going to be. Blackstreet’s ‘No Diggity’, maybe? That’s old-school. Perhaps too old-school. Nelly’s ‘Hot in Here’? That would be a good one to dance to. 

She plays the song. It’s Timbaland’s ‘The Way I Are’. From 2007. “It’s really old-school,” she says again. “Don’t worry if you don’t recognise it.” I look around at my fellow dancers. How old are they to not know a song from 2007, which doesn’t feel like that long ago? A quick mental calculation reveals if they were 10 in 2007 and not yet privy to the delights of hip hop music, that would make them 21. Fair enough. And yikes.

I can just about keep up with the choreography. It is not easy to:
1. shake it like a polaroid picture
2. whilst simultaneously wondering if anyone is truly ready for this jelly, and
3. keep a hip hop face on.

I love the routine and almost feel like a back-up dancer in a Beyoncé video, or better yet, like Beyoncé. I have a slight issue with the lyrics, specifically the ungrammatical title and chorus but I do believe in artistic licence so tell myself that this is no time for the Grammar Police and can you stop analysing the bloody lyrics and just try to be a little more hip hop please?

The class runs over by a few minutes so there isn’t time for an official ‘cool-down’. As the instructor presses Pause on Timbaland, she says, “We’ll finish here, but please stay if you need to stretch.” And looks straight at me whilst all the 21-year-old dancers pick up their tote bags and stroll out of the studio. (It’s 9.30pm so I suppose the night is still young for them, whereas I am thinking about a nice hot shower and a mug of green tea.)

I could take offence. I could begin a downward spiral into a pit of  paranoia and despair. But instead, I call on my inner swagger and tell myself I need to stretch because I killed those moves.

So I plonk my 40-year-old leg up on the ballet barre and stretch it like I mean it. My hamstrings will thank me in the morning.


©2018 Seetha Dodd