Sometimes when I walk down the street I suddenly get the urge to throw my arms wide and do a jig to the day and all that is. There is no music around, I do not have my ears plugged into an iPod. There’s simply a sudden need to give expression to some primal urge—something visceral.
People stare—some in amusement, others in amazement, some frown; others shake their heads in despair or circle their index finger next to their temple. When I eventually notice their faces, I start laughing and will sometimes offer, “just giving the world a hug,” which makes them laugh.
What am I hearing and dancing to and who am I dancing for? What rhythm is it that suddenly grabs my soul and shakes it so it cannot stay still? Where is the music; where is the beat?
The other day while sitting at a corner coffee shop, I watched a little girl prancing around the pavement like a whirlwind until her mother said, “What’s the matter with you? Why are you dancing? Stop that—what will other people think?” My instant thought was, “Does it matter? If I were to put someone inside my head even for a short time they would need therapy for the rest of their lives.” I listened carefully to hear if there was any music playing in the vicinity; there was none. And I wondered what was going on in that little girl’s head; what was she hearing?
A friend and I were walking through a Metro station in Montreal one evening; next to us was a young couple. The young guy suddenly ran in front of us, turned around to face us, and opened his arms wide with a huge smile. I opened mine, and he grabbed me and we did a quick few seconds crazy, joyous waltz. We were all laughing—the two of us, his girlfriend my friend and, in fact, everyone who had seen this.
But what were we dancing to? And who were we dancing for—what was the reason for two complete strangers to suddenly have a twirl in a busy Metro station in Montreal? There was no music, no sound system—the train wasn’t even moving so we couldn’t blame it on the rhythmic sound of its movement on the rails. There was nothing there but the sound of people walking, mumbling, talking on cell phones, texting—the everyday humdrum of busyness.
It was one of those moments of sheer joy—when something else takes over and no matter who I asked, no-one could explain what that “something” is.
I did a lot of research on why people dance and yes, there are many articles on why people dance to music or drum beats or external creators of rhythm, such as this extract from an article in Scientific American titled “Why do we like to dance–And move to the beat?” by Columbia University neurologist John Krakauer:
“Scientists aren’t sure why we like movement so much, but there’s certainly a lot of anecdotal evidence to suggest we get a pretty big kick out of it. Maybe synchronizing music, which many studies have shown is pleasing to both the ear and brain, and movement—in essence, dance—may constitute a pleasure double play.
Music is known to stimulate pleasure and reward areas like the orbitofrontal cortex, located directly behind one’s eyes, as well as a midbrain region called the ventral striatum. In particular, the amount of activation in these areas matches up with how much we enjoy the tunes. In addition, music activates the cerebellum, at the base of the brain, which is involved in the coordination and timing of movement.”
But that wasn’t the answer to my question: “Why do we dance when there is NO music?”—so it was back into research mode for a few days until I eventually hit pay dirt in an interview with Michio Kaku, Professor of Theoretical Physics, CUNY on Big Think and his words created the “Eureka!” moment:
“String Theory says that all the notes on a vibrating string correspond to a particle. That to an electron is actually a rubber band; a very tiny rubber band. But if you twang this rubber band and the rubber band vibrates at a different frequency, it turns into a quark. And you twang it again and it turns into a neutrino. So, how many musical notes are there? An infinite number. How many musical notes are there on a string? An infinite number. And that may explain why we have so many subatomic particles. They are nothing but musical notes. So, physics are nothing but the laws of harmonies on a string.
Chemistry is nothing but the melodies you can play on vibrating strings, and the mind of God, the mind of God that Einstein worked on for the last 30 years of his life, the mind of God would be cosmic music. Cosmic music resonating through 11 dimensional hyperspace. You see, our universe is a symphony. It’s a symphony of vibrating strings and possibly membranes, but when it was born, it was born as a perfect entity in 11 dimensional hyperspace.”
That’s the music we dance to; that is what I am hearing—the symphony of the universe, the music that is everywhere—in the bark of each tree, every blade of grass, the flowing river, the concrete pavements, the stars, moon, thunder and sky. “The wind in a forest fir. The trek of atom and star.” Cosmic music, the music of All That Is. “Dance beneath a diamond sky with one hand waving free.”
As to who am I dancing for? Why, for me and for you, until you learn to dance for yourself.