Her arms moved like streamers in the wind. Hesitation did not become her companion. Her lips enunciated each word as if they meant something to her. We watched our daughter perform this weekend with her friends at an annual Diwali event. She giggled a few times in the middle of her dance song because she forgot what came next. After a millisecond pause, she remembered and resumed throwing herself in the moment.

After her performance she did not stop dancing. She continued to move across the floor, holding hands with her friends, pushing her arms in the air, and embracing the cadence of now. I felt a smile radiating from my core. The essence of all of life’s goodness existed on that dance floor. Freedom. Living in the now. Laughter. Friendship. Being yourself.

Witnessing her effervescence prompted a reflection. Growing up as a little girl, I always stood in the corner while others danced. I watched in the eighties as my friends glided their feet across the floor, their version of the moonwalk didn’t look anything like Michael Jackson’s, but they did it anyway. Other friends swiveled their hips and then broke out in the running man. When the song Vogue came out, several people framed their face like they were Madonna. A few times a friend grabbed my hand and pushed me on the dance floor, but I ended up clapping my hands with a self-consciousness that felt awkward. Even at my own wedding, I mingled with guests, but shied away from looking foolish in the middle of so many guests.

As much as I adore music, live concerts, and singing in my car, I am not a dancer. I suspect it has to do with my need for control and my reluctance to appear physically vulnerable in front of other people. Watching my daughter, a fear creeped up. I hope she never limits herself like I did. The few times I’ve participated in ethnic dances, I concerned myself with the structure of the moves instead of embracing the freedom that accompanies dancing without abandon.

In my head, I mouthed the words, “May she always dance.”