I’ve always been cautious. I save for rainy days. I drive the speed limit. Going outside without sunscreen is about as daring as I want to get. Sometimes when I’m feeling really bold I refuse to floss.
Yet, one day, I found myself climbing roofs in India….
Old town Ahmedabad has narrow streets and close together homes. In the early days, if there was an attack on the city, people could leap from roof to roof to get away. Now in modern times they have an annual kite festival there and we were invited.
Rickshaws brought us to a home in old town. We entered, removed our shoes, knelt at a temple to Shiva. We sat with the kind residents, took pictures, and had tea. Then they asked if we wanted to go on the roof to see the kites. Yes.
We walked barefoot over foul-smelling stairs and halls, with exposed wires, poor lighting, and rubble. We stepped onto the roof. There were people eating, smiling, and enjoying the kites.
But then, we noticed a more compelling roof. It was a place to perch on a corrugated slope. If we scaled it, it promised a spectacular view of the city and the kites.
“Let’s go, Bonnie-ji,” they said.
My caution kicked in. “Thanks, I’m barefoot and I’m not a climber.”
“Okay,” they said, and went up, smiling and waving, encouraging me from the summit.
I went to India with the intention to try everything. After about 10 minutes, I shouted, “I’m coming up.”
My companions’ concerns for me were touching. They took me by the hand and led me up the slope to the top. I balanced on the edge. There was a large hole near my left foot. People kept telling me, “Look out for the hole, we don’t want you to fall through.”
Finally, I said, “Who am I, Tom Thumb?” I’m not sure if that reference was lost on my local friends, but I stuck my leg down the hole to demonstrate how I was too big to fall through. I like to think there were people sitting below, having tea, marveling at the phenomenon of an American leg with painted pink toenails dangling from above….
I was happy, I had a new view… but then we noticed an even better roof.
This new roof was happening.
It was a flat roof slightly below our current position. To get there, we had to scale about seven feet of crumbly wall. If we could manage the climb, we’d be with women in bright sari’s, dancing like wild butterflies to Indian music. These women had moves. We watched, we clapped, and each time we applauded they beckoned us to join them.
When my friends decided to scale the wall, I said yes.
It was so worth it. On the new roof, where no one spoke English, we communicated with complete strangers in the language of dance. The women taught us their moves. I gave away the heart pin I was wearing. It wasn’t enough, I wanted to give them everything, for in that moment they bewitched me. How did I end up in a land of unspeakable joy, dancing on a shabby roof in an explosion of color? What did I do to deserve this?
I said yes.
Caution is a beautiful thing. But sometimes you have to say yes to climb towards joy. Once you arrive at the destination, joy expands to more joy with another yes.
That’s what I discovered, dancing on a roof with colorful strangers in old town Ahmedabad.
Now, back in the states, I turn to Pandora’s Greatest Hits from Bollywood to help me remember who I want to be. The music reconnects me with expansive joy and once again, I am humbled by the greatness of the divine dance.
Where do you deny your yes? How can you find your yes and climb into expansive joy?