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The Ceili Mor (pronounced Kaley More) is an old Irish folk dance.


I was in Ireland to work, but had come early to have fun.  The magnificent landscape is surpassed only by the wonderful Irish people. Cork city had taken up the challenge from a city in Ohio to break their world record of 7,500 people dancing the Ceili Mor all at once.


Only steps away from my hotel, nine blocks of the main street were crammed with dancers and watchers.  I was a watcher.  The event was open to anyone.  They taught you how to do the dance in two minutes.  Many people were being shown as I watched, committing it to memory.


I stood on the sidelines enjoying the live Irish bands, one on each block performing on one of the nine temporary stages.  Each block had its own emcee entertaining the crowds while we waited for Michael Flatley to arrive, via helicopter. He was late, allowing for many more people to join the frolic. I wanted to, but I'm a chicken.


I saw four year olds among the dancers.  I saw eighty year olds.  There were costumed Irish clog dancers in groups. The city was alive with community spirit.  I wanted to join so badly, but I'm a chicken.


I'd be embarrassed.  I thought of all the reasons, justifying my fears:  I’m not Irish, I shouldn’t.  I don’t really know how to dance.  I’d be humiliated.  It looked like so much fun.  In my head I argued with myself knowing that this was one of those moments I’d look back on and wish I’d done it all my life.  But I’m a chicken.


I don’t know these people.  What if I make a fool of myself? I can just remain cool, calm and enjoy the spirit of the thing on the sidelines.  That was enough involvement for me.  I am scared of being embarrassed.


For heavens sake, I was in a foreign country.  If I looked ridiculous, no one would ever know. But I’m a chicken.


I staked out my place on the frontlines of the sidelines.  I finally made my decision.  I’d won my argument.  Even though I’d regret it the rest of my life, I’d regret more making a fool of myself publicly, and on purpose.  On the sidelines, I could remain in control.  It was safer.  I’d made my decision.  The stress of it was over. I’d just watch.  I was resigned to it now.


Funny thing, more people were drawn into the dance as time lagged on. Mr. Flatley was delayed. More and more people swelled the ranks of the dancers and fewer and fewer were on the sidelines any more.  Many assistants worked the crowd on the edges, encouraging them to join.  It was tempting, but I’d made my decision.  I was safe behind my mask of control, alias, fear.


A young woman came up next to me to watch.  She worked in a jewelry shop around the corner and came to watch during her lunch break.  She was dressed beautifully with 3 inch heels and a lovely outfit, very European.  We exchanged pleasantries. Although a local, she knew less about this dance than I.  I told her the assistants were teaching people all the time and I’d been watching and it looked easy.


She caught the excitement bug and blurted out “I will if you will! Do you want to?”  “Let’s do it!” I exclaimed, and we bounded around the gate ends, feeling proud and free. We registered our names and joined the crowd of dancing revelers.  I was ecstatically happy from the inside out.  I knew this was one of those personal pivotal moments in life.  I was participating in life instead of observing it.


I had leapt into my fear of not being in control and ending up embarrassed. That instant decision, aided by a comrade in fear, was a joy for both of us.  We were like little kids among the dancers… laughing, going the wrong way, meeting people for 20 second intervals, having the time of our lives.


Little decisions can have big results.  Next time I have that choice to participate instead of remaining fearful on the sidelines of life, the choice will be easier.  I can’t promise I’ll always choose it, but I took a giant leap for myself.  I keep the plastic bracelet and the flyer inviting all to register and be included.  I did. I was.  I’m glad. We did set a new world’s record for the Guinness Book.  There were over 9,000 of us happy, happy dancers.


I'm sharing this story; as it is such a good example of a classic human condition...our fear of embarrassing ourselves...our fear of each other.  Think of me whenever you have a situation arise in your life when fear takes over and limits your joy.  Jump in...I won't laugh at you and neither will others...when you give yourself permission to truly live your life fully!  Life is a dance and dancers are wanted!

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