How To Shimmy


First, you will forget everything you have ever thought, or said, or heard about flesh jiggling. You will know in your heart that no one really gives a damn about whether your belly is flat or not, whether your tush is tight or not, or whether your breasts move on their own–or not. You will remember how your 11-year-old son excitedly told you that the molecules in all matter are always moving, how things which appear to be solid are actually generating their own constant rhythm. You will take a deep breath and know that you are part of the air, part of the wind. You will know that the wind is your breath. You will remember that your body is made mostly of water; the undulating waves of the ocean are inside you. You will remember your childhood longing to be a mermaid with shimmering blue and green scales on your tail. You will remember that Botticelli painting of Venus rising from the ocean and know that your own beauty is just as powerful.

You will recall that the center of the earth is iron core crystal with a molten outer core. You will bend your knees and crouch down, placing your palms on the tops of your feet. You will feel the soles of your feet and their connection to the floor, to the dirt, to all things green, to all trees swaying, to all flowers blooming. You will remember that Pele is alive in Hawaii. Right under your feet new earth is forming even now. You will curl your way to standing and place your palms on your hipbones, feeling the flesh that covers the bone, knowing its impermanence, especially now that your body is aging and you have in your life experienced definitive loss. This impermanence will free you. You will have no more tethers, no more excuses. You will smile knowingly, wisely as you bend your knees slightly. You will silently send gratitude to those knees that allow you to remain flexible and dynamic in your engagement with life.

You will gently tip your pelvis forward with your hands on your hips. The tipping will remind you that the long length of your spine is exactly like the body of a snake. You will think of the hypnotic sound of the zurna that’s played to charm cobras. You will hear again the music of Sulyman el Coyote and Armando Mafufo who played zurna and tabla beledi as you danced into the Pacific Ocean. You will remember that Delilah took your hands and whispered, “That was great,” after you had surrendered to the waves and you were both soaking wet. You will relax the muscles of your legs to the memory of the intoxicating sounds of the zurna, to the memory of the waves.

You will be aware of the bowl of your pelvis. You will ask that the constant vibration of all earthly things come through your body. You will feel it first in your feet. You will feel the rising energy seep up through the soles of your feet and into your legs like water seeping into the stem of a cut flower. As the energy rises, you will begin to bend and straighten your knees, alternating as you go. The shimmy is your birthright. You will remember this and invite the movement to slide up the legs and into the hips without force or effort. You will remember that the bodies of all curvaceous women have flesh that moves. You will say a silent prayer of forgiveness for imagining that your body could be anything less than holy.

You will quicken the pace of the bending and straightening of your knees knowing that next your belly will soften and begin its own dance. As the vibration expands up through your body, you awaken a longing for more. You will feel your breasts moving now–they cannot help it. You will feel the flesh on the back of your arms rumbling, too. You will lift your arms slowly toward the sky, coaxing the energy of earth and space through your body. You will feel the joyous vibration of being alive in this body, in this moment, as you smile toward the sky with the energy pouring upward like a fountain. You will know once and for all that there is no stopping this movement, this vibration. And, you will make a vow to always move as you, a human woman, were meant to move.

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