In any given wild bout of enthusiastic dancing, the potential for mistakes arises. It comes with the territory. The excitable mover-and-shaker implicitly acknowledges that without taking big risks, he will never earn big rewards. This acknowledgement spurs him towards a dangerous line. On one side, brilliance. On the other, recklessness. But push towards that line he must if he seeks glory. History has shown that those who fear the line are doomed to mediocrity. That is, history favors the courageous who, in the fashion of the popular game show The Price Is Right, come closest without going over.
Let’s check in on one such aspirant towards shakin’-what-his-momma-gave-him greatness. Let’s choose an unusual pseudonym, say, Prashant. Is he a pretender or a contender? While homecoming dates and wedding dance circle onlookers have openly acknowledged him as a prodigy, these endorsements alone are not sufficient to determine the answer. Lamentably, the world is no stranger to wasted talent.
When questioned by journalists seeking answers after “The Incident in Tahiti”, the onlookers and dates universally, inevitably cite Prashant’s fluid “lawnmower” and enchanting “worm”. They mention his grasp of the intangibles beyond rhythm which count in this game. They also universally and inevitably express surprise when told what happened. They shake their heads and realize that on second thought, they could see it coming. They can, in hindsight, see his hubris. It is, in fact, clear as day, they, to a person, say.
What set the tragedy of “The Incident in Tahiti” in motion? Prashant, as we continue to call him, knew that some of humanity’s greatest advances emerged from an inclination towards such derring-do. He would frequently indulge in pleasantly recounting to anybody who would listen the top 3 such acts with fond wistfulness, blatantly ignoring room for debate. He found inspiration in Edison’s naked hokey-pokey just before inventing the light bulb, Mandela’s especially electric slide before dismantling apartheid, and, of course, the enduring images of Reagan and Gorbachev doing an unusual duet macarena before ending the Cold War. Other children had posters of Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky and Pete Incaviglia, but he said his evening prayers with these historical highlights looking on. It is with some surprise that this reporter, well, reports his mother actually encouraged this passion, believe it or not.
In re-creating his motivations, it becomes clear he wasn’t sure whether these historic dances curried favor with the Gods thus causing the events which followed. Or perhaps the brilliance manifested in the dances just served as a harbinger of other outward manifestations of greatness? Either way, Prashant sought his place in history and had a hunch that a wild bout of enthusiastic dancing might be his golden ticket. In his own telling in a recent rare post-Tahiti public appearance, he admitted to getting distracted at the thought of such a ticket because it without fail made him think of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory.
Perhaps that was the primary issue on that fateful day in Tahiti. What else but a tragically misplaced focus on simultaneously funny and scary Oompa Loompa songs explains what was to transpire? Oh, the misery of yet more wasted talent. This is incontrovertible evidence of a cruel world. This is the danger in wantonly seeking idle thrills. This is what it sounds like when the doves cry.
Without further ado, let’s examine the event in question. Prashant clearly enjoyed his continued traveling good fortune at: (1) having a flight cancellation in Auckland give him three free nights with all meals included at a fine hotel, a stroke of luck for any self-respecting backpacker (fellow passengers/hotel guests remark that he “devastated” that breakfast buffet every morning); (2) the front and center tickets to a popular New Zealand band, Fat Freddy’s Drop, which emerged from the changed dates and proved a warm up for the night of dancing in question; and (3), the change in dates leading ultimately to having an entire Tahitian nature resort to himself, while only paying for the price of a dorm room. He was seen slapping his forehead in surprise, as he had on the previous occasion of a bank error in his favor (in the amount of $200).
But I believe it is appropriate to conclude that the promise and beauty of solitude led to a changed relationship with the line. The line seemed to lose any imprint of fear as it beckoned Prashant closer and closer. Fear can be an unnatural, unnecessary inhibitor but it can also guide prudent action in appropriate circumstances. An understanding of which form of fear is operational is absolutely instrumental in this game.
The seeds for The Incident were planted when he took an especial liking to sitting on the dock of the bay and watching the tide roll away. He would wile away his hours like Otis Redding. He began to even spend his evenings on the dock watching the sea and enjoying the fresh evening air under the impossibly starry sky.
It was dark out there. Especially when he would excitably close his eyes while dancing to his iPod, dangerously pressing his luck with the line. But on this spin, to press my own luck with another game show metaphor, he earned a big whammy, most certainly not big bucks. WHA-WHA. Yes even high-quality journalism such as this calls on game show onomotopaeia for effect.
Unconfirmed rumors have it that Seal has the ignominious honor of being last song played. But make no mistake, this was no Kiss from a Rose. And like many among us, Seal brought out the best in Prashant. He would have you believe that this was beyond anything he ever did before, his finest moment, that he wouldn’t change a thing. For one pure moment of glory he owned that line, at least until he fell off the dock and into the refreshing salt water.
But do you believe he is really without regret, especially considering TWO iPods AND his camera were in his pockets and no longer function? He stubbornly refuses comment but his countenance was surprisingly unperturbed at the aforementioned public appearance. This skeptical reporter conjectures maybe Prashant is foolish enough to think his second rate travel insurance policy will cover this fiasco. I, for one, don’t put it past him. I have talked to the man. Or maybe he really doesn’t care at this stage of the trip, that what might have been his worst nightmare at the outset has come to pass. Nah, the latter explanation is unlikely. Yes, even high quality journalism such as this uses the word “nah.”
We can also feel free to speculate that he felt like he was missing out on wild bout of enthusiastic dancing opportunities in the form of recent friends’ weddings (he asked me to pass on “shouts” to Wykle, Donato and Bates). But whatever the explanation, one thing is clear, such is the life of an enthusiastic dancer. He invites danger. He lives on the edge. If you think you have what it takes, there is a standing invitation to “come on down.”
What are we to take away from this tale? What is the moral of this story? Is it just a dumb story loosely littered with weak song and game references? Perhaps. Although since it is my work, I would be offended at that conclusion. I would steer you in another direction. Surely enough this portrait depicts lack of success, and it is this reporter’s humble opinion, that, yes, clearly there was a naïve foolishness in Prashant’s dancing. But also, it seems it is better to have danced and fallen in, than to never have danced at all. You can only gain Mastery of the line if you know where it is and that demands respectful approach. I leave you with the thought that it becomes possible to Walk the Line. Yes, even high quality journalism such as this this does call on the Man in Black.