The truth is… well, it’s not that easy.
Truth has many faces. We can talk ourselves into or out of anything. We can find the smallest, most teensy little bit of a situation that resonates with us, and then call that Truth. But is it really?
What I do know is that I know how I feel, moment to moment, at any time. Over the years, I’ve learned to trust that how I feel is what I know to be true. And that allows me to change and evolve because feelings are fluid. When we stick to absolutes, then we can’t allow ourselves to make necessary transitions.
One essential tool I’ve used throughout my life to find my Truth is Morning Pages. The practice, created by Julia Cameron (author of The Artist’s Way), is handwriting 3 pages of stream of consciousness thoughts every morning, just after waking up. No judgment. No editing. Just free flowing writing. And I don’t know if I would be where I am today without them.
When I was in my 20s, and performing professionally in the Middle East, I would cling to the pages as if they were my best friend. We had no cell phones or internet, so I couldn’t just text my mom or easily call a friend. So I became very introspective. And it was very difficult for me.
It might seem like I had it all back then. So many dancers dream of performing in grand, five-star hotel nightclubs in the Middle East, and that’s what I did every night. I had 42 costumes, one in every color. I worked with some of the best musicians in the business, and my bands had no fewer than 18 musicians. Dancers in Egypt today are lucky to have 8. And on top of all of that, my photo and name were on billboards! It’s clear to me now that I was addicted to the “high” of performing. It was everything I always wanted, even since I was a little girl.
Every morning, I wrote and wrote and wrote. Most days, I’d write about how lonely I felt. A deep sadness echoed in my words. But also a hunger for a new truth.
The reality was that I never really felt safe, physically or creatively. And I never felt like I could create and explore my artistic ideas without being judged.
It became clear to me, day after day, that my dream was to open a dance school, where students could feel safe to explore and create their own truths through belly dance.
The Morning Pages let you know where your heart needs to lead you. You just have to listen.
I walked off the nightclub stage when I was 28, after over a decade of performing 6-7 nights a week. And I didn’t look back.
And here we are now, over 25 years later. The Salimpour School is going stronger than ever. My Truth is with this program and my students. I put all of it first, before my own personal artistic adventures. That is my Truth.
What is your Truth?
The original blog was published in the Salimpour School blog on February 14, 2020.