When I was a child, I was ballet mad, like many little girls. We lived in a small town in eastern Kansas, and now and again famous troups would come to Kansas City and my dad would take me on the train to watch them. Of all the dancers I saw, the one who most enraptured me was Alicia Alonso. I never would have guessed when I saw her move so weightlessly across the stage that she was nearly blind, that she had spent a year in bed unable to move in hopes of correcting her vision–dancing only in her mind, as she put it, while her husband, also a dancer, sat next to her, showing her the steps by tracing them with his fingers on her body.
This past week, the New York Times ran a story on Madame Alonso, who is turning 90 this year and has for many decades directed the Ballet Nacional de Cuba. She was in New York for a special American Ballet Theater tribute to her. “If a person keeps thinking, ‘How old am I going to be?; and thinking about the age, that’s the worst thing you can do. You don’t have to think about how old you are. You have to think about how many things you want to do and how to do it and keep on doing it.”
The words came just before my own 63rd birthday, and offered a great incentive to keep alive the many projects I have in mind. I wish I wrote faster, wish I could figure out how to manage my time better–I want to visit more places, learn French, reconnect with my singing voice–but Alonso’s advice to just keep doing it means, don’t stop to feel sorry for yourself or to upbraid yourself for time misspent. Just keep on keeping on!