Dancing in the Desert

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Peggy Hansen is the first to admit she’s not the kind of person to really let go of her inhibitions. But one night, in the desert, around a campfire... 

I'm not a joiner, mostly. Often, it feels safe and familiar to observe, and appreciate the risk that others freely take, so I tend to stick to that lane more than I should—more than I want, in truth.

Perhaps we all have another self, a fantasy version of ourselves that isn't scared of the internal critics that play on every fear, every weakness, every doubt. That other self gets up and does the thing we are afraid of, puts itself out there with no care for appearances, and has a blast. The fantasy self could take over, and be free, I tell myself—and who's to say she shouldn't? I could be that person anytime I wanted….couldn’t I?

Too often, though, I worry about looking silly, doing it wrong, making a fool of myself, and that mythic creature remains trapped. I feel her shake the bars of the cage I've built for her, and kick against the door, but I ignore her howls.

There's something about a campfire though, and nighttime in a desert far from home. Smoke rises, undulates, and leaves an airy lightness where there once was solid wood. A dancer, clad in Rajasthani finery, reaches out her hand and pulls you from your soft, warm cushion and your nest of silken pillows. You hang back, the fear beating in you louder than the drums and castanets, but only for a second, maybe three. The bars on that cage, maybe, could at last be broken. So you rise, and take her hand, and get your footing in the cold, sweet sand. The drums sound out, the singer adds his melody, and you lift your arms to mirror hers. You spin, and dip, and shake your hips: you dance. Not perfectly, or even very well, perhaps, but you dance.

With a Perspective, I’m Peggy Hansen.

Peggy Hansen is a photographer and organic farmer in Santa Cruz.