A Trip to Heaven

The belly dancer does her daily dance and I know I'm up next. She moves to the right and to the left, her body is so elastic as if she doesn't have bones, isn't this what they always say? For me she doesn't look boneless, she looks in control knowing exactly how much she needs to move her hip, knowing the perfect timing for her arms to be surrounding her hips and when to surround her head. She knows when her shoulders and chest should move and when to keep them static. She knows when to show a leg and when to lean down. She knows when to move in her dance and when to dance in her place. Her face changes from a smile to a frown to a laugh to a sad face. It's like it's in sync with the moves of her body. I look at her face and I wonder, does she ever feel the way I feel, or used to feel when she dances? Or is it just her job, just a job, and she does it professionally? Is it my dance or the meaning behind it that makes me feel this way? I already know the answer to this question...

The wondering fades away as I remember how I used to feel with every spin before I came here. It grows less with everyday I spend in this place, with every time I spin for a job rather than spirituality. With every spin that takes me close to that place, but not quite, the regret takes me away from it. I remember what brought me here, money, more money, and I feel so unclean, so greedy, I feel so far from the peacefulness I used to feel with every spin before I got here.

Before I drown in my thoughts the music stops and I know it's time for me to get in. It's time for me to spin for a crowd that enjoys the look of a man who spins and spins but never falls. And even those few who know the trick of tilting my head while spinning in order not to get dizzy, even those enjoy the look of the colorful cloth. Most don't know how, just a few know how, but nobody here knows why I spin. They watch the belly dancer move her body beautifully to the music and they enjoy the performance so much, and when I start my performance, they feel the same way. For them, I'm just a dancer.

I take my cloth and move to the stage, they call it tanoora, the skirt, but it's much more than that. I walk the regretful steps that I unwalk every night in my dreams. I stand on stage, close my eyes and say my prayer. With the last word of it I feel myself moving from a place to another, from a time to another, from being one person to another. With the last word of the prayer the only part of my performance that is the same as the old days is gone, and with it my soul is gone. I open my eyes and spread my arms to each side. I take the same hopeful breath I take every night, the hope that this time I'll reach where I used to go when I performed, and I start spinning. I eliminate the music from my brain and turn on my own music, the real Sufi music. I spin and spin and spin and with every spin I'm taken away from this world, for I stop being me, my soul leaves my body and watches as I become the whole world as I become the Earth as it revolves around itself. I watch myself become night and day, work and play, I become love and hatred, happiness and sadness, good and evil, I become active and passive. I watch my skirt orbiting around me, its source of life. I watches it colors being mixed together making the colors of the four seasons. Born at white, growing at orange, aging at yellow and dying at red, then it goes back to life, and oh what is life but cycles spinning around, you end it where it all began...

My spirit is lift higher and higher, but before I reach where I want to be, before my spirit is taken to heaven on a visit, before I taste the true meaning of divinity, I'm awaken by the music that I can't cancel anymore. I lift my skirt up high to hide my face, to hide my tears, then up we go, with a hand spin over my head. I watch my astonished audience ooohing and aaaahing and I feel nothing, yet I put my smiling mask on and continue to entertain them and slowly kill myself....

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