I’d guess he’s a student by the bookbag on his back and his usual proximity to the university. He is tall, thin and black — none of which would normally call attention or capture imagination.
I’ve never seen him without his earphones. I’ve also never seen him walk in a usual way.
He has no locomotion of legs dutifully placing one foot in front of the other and arms swinging gently at his side. It is not who he is.
If you observe him for a block or so, you will find no straight line to his progress. He will slowly spin on his right foot, walk a few jaunty steps and then rotate on his left.
He’ll raise both arms in the air and then dip them, back and forth, from one side to the other, like some choreographed calisthenics.
I have seen him go to one knee and then leap for the sky. Or take a couple of funky steps forward and then moonwalk backward in the same direction.
Given the variety from ballet pirouettes to line-dancing scissor-steps, you have to wonder what he has on his playlist. Perhaps he wasn’t even plugged in, the earphones simply silencing the world so he could hear more clearly the rhythms of his soul.
I don’t know if he was dancing as if no one was watching or performing for everyone. Regardless, the energy and fluid ease of his movement spoke of some childlike joy.
Like the prophetess Miriam grabbing a tambourine and leading the Israelite women in a dance on the safe side of the Red Sea.
Like King David dancing with abandon as the Ark of the Lord was carried into Jerusalem.
Like the father in the Parable of the Lost Son who not only killed the fatted calf, but struck up the band for music and dancing to celebrate his prodigal’s return.
I don’t know if this young man danced because he realized the great gift he had been given. Or whether he whirled and twirled to escape some pain or sorrow invading that life. All I know is that, at least for the moment, maybe praying by swaying, he seemed at peace.
An old Indian proverb says, “To watch us dance is to hear our heart speak.” I believe that after watching him.
He makes me wonder, though, how I allow my heart to speak.