Amanda's View: Social dance

By Amanda Knox
 
This week Chris and I learned the shim sham. Without getting technical, I’d describe it as a social line dance combining tap-style stomping, gliding, kicking, wiggle-walking, and swagger. The shim sham is what our instructors Mark and Katie K. call the seventh evening stretch of every social dance—at least on swing nights at the Century Ballroom. It’s the one time we shed our roles as leader or follower and synchronize instead with the whole room full of other individual dancers.
 
You can feel the difference. Your mind shifts from honing in on your partner to honing in on both yourself and the entire group, from “couple” to “individual + collective.” So, though I adore partner dancing, I was excited to finally also participate in the shim sham, for the same reason that I love participating in a choir or a theatre chorus or a flash mob. It’s magical when individuals come together and the resulting organism is greater than the sum of its parts—like a flock of birds.
 

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Amanda's View: Alone time

By Amanda Knox
 
February 14th is creeping up, which reminds me that some of us don’t have partners with which to celebrate, and are perhaps feeling particularly alone. Not bad alone, necessarily, but notably alone, more so than on any other day. I’ve been there far more often than not, and have occasionally overcompensated in response. One year, while still living at the UW, I handmade dozens of chocolate-covered strawberries and gave them out to all my single dorm friends. They responded with perplexed expressions, and I explained, “I love Love!”
 

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Amanda's View: Opportunity to be

By Amanda Knox
 
I remember how Don Saulo, the chaplain at Capanne prison, visited every cell each morning and greeted every prisoner by name. He brought in movies for us to watch, and each one—Kung Fu Panda, Avatar—made him cry. He told the prison staff that he needed me to spend a few hours a week in his office helping him prepare for mass, when really he let me pass the time singing and playing Beatles songs on the guitar. When I crocheted him a bracelet, he took it, thanked me, and said, “White. The color of resurrection…” When we first met, I was freshly imprisoned and afraid and surrounded by strangers, and I told him I was innocent and I knew he, like everyone else, didn’t believe me. He replied, “I can’t say if you are innocent, but I believe you are sincere when you tell me you are innocent.”
 
Which is to say that, from the moment we met, Don Saulo was always a man of kindness and integrity. That very first day, he showed me his brutal, compassionate honesty, and it was because of this honesty that I knew it was true when he eventually told me he believed me, years later.
 

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