The path of the hummingbird

Hummingbirds move from tree to tree, field to field, and they cross pollinate wherever they go. ~ Elizabeth Gilbert

Last week, I attended an introductory dance class called Elegance on High Heels. Think Beyoncé-style moves to the latest RnB hits, while wearing high heels – naturally.

It wasn’t my first dance class. At age 5, I attended ballet for a year. At ages 14-15, I enrolled at a local dance school and did my exams in tap, modern and jazz.

At age 18, I attended street dance classes, which prompted me and some university friends to choreograph our own street dance and perform it at The World Party Festival.

At age 20, I’d moved on to Indian dance. So, for around six months, some friends and I perfected the art of showing what was beneath our veil, so we could wear saris and perform again at The World Party Festival.

Throughout my twenties I would occasionally rock up at Pineapple dance studios in London’s Covent Garden to do street dance, tap, jazz, modern – basically whatever I felt like, whenever I felt like it. More recently, I’d been doing Zumba on and off, before discovering the delights of high-heeled dancing.

So, do I want to be a dancer? No. Am I trying to find the one style of dance I love so much that I can get really good at it? No. I’m just following my curiosity where it leads – just like a hummingbird. And that’s not just my approach to dance, it’s my approach to my ENTIRE life.

Of course, I’ve known this about myself for a long time. Around 10 years ago, the self-help community started naming people like me. We’re ‘renaissance souls’, some said. We’re ‘scanners’, said others. We’re interested in so many things that we can’t pick just one, despite society telling us that we have to, in order to be successful and happy.

But it’s Elizabeth Gilbert’s definition of people like me that really resonated. In her recent talk on Oprah’s Winfrey’s Super Soul sessions, the Eat, Pray, Love author said: “Hummingbirds move from tree to tree, field to field, and they cross pollinate wherever they go.” Society needs hummingbirds she said, even though we may feel that the world gives us a rough ride.

Hummingbirds bring fresh ideas wherever they go, because they’ve been where the jackhammers haven’t been. Yet, still the generally held truth in Western society is that you have to find your one big passion, dedicate your life to it and leave a legacy. When, in fact, exploring your curiosities is as good a passion as any.

After the high heels dance class, I realised the teacher had put a video of us dancing up on Instagram. So, my husband and I settled down to watch it. A few seconds in, we cracked up laughing. During the opening sequence, I was out of time in the first move, so I spun too early and did some extra jigs to find my place. I hadn’t even noticed at the time, as I was having so much fun. ‘But look now,’ he said ‘you’re really giving it some sass.’

Yes, indeed I was. Because that’s the thing with us hummingbirds, we give 100% to whatever we’re doing. We fully commit to our curiosities and when we move on, we take what we’ve learned with us.

It may look like we’ve given up Indian dance, or tap dance, or whatever. But we haven’t. The dance is in our hearts and minds, and it informs what we offer the next world we find ourselves in.

  • Jennifer Cockcroft
    Posted at 11:27h, 15 November Reply

    Thank you for sharing this Greta – I too identify as a renaissance person/scanner/multi-potentialite/hummingbird and I’m always so pleased to hear more people speaking up about this being OK. A friend had mentioned the Liz Gilbert talk but I’d forgotten all about listening to it, so thank you for providing the link, I’m heading over there now 🙂 If you could see the list of all the different things I’ve tried over the years, some just once, some for longer periods of time, some returned too after years, you’d think I lived an incredibly busy life! But it’s all about balance for me – seeing what works, what doesn’t, what I get out of the experience of trying something new, and when I’m ready to move on, or ready to incorporate it regularly into my life. People have called me changeable, indecisive, a dreamer, and asked when I’m going to settle down to one thing – but I’m proud now to turn around to them and say never! I want to keep exploring as much as the world has to offer.

    • Greta Solomon
      Posted at 08:53h, 16 November Reply

      Hi Jennifer, that’s great to hear that you are proudly owning who you are. I think the world is full of us hummingbirds, but until now we’ve been too afraid to really shine our light. Keep exploring!

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