Idealism is a weird thing. It can bring blessing and chaos into your life – sometimes even simultaneously. But whether ‘tis chaos or blessings idealism is bringing, it always brings clarity.
Enter Malya into my life. Malya wasn’t created like you and me. She’d been mixed with different ingredients. According to Jewish law, she falls into the category of Shoteh, one whose reasoning and mind is impaired and, therefore, is absolved of any commandments. At times you can have lucid conversation with Malya; but most times the places her mind goes is to destinations alien to those organically sane. Her diagnosis changes each time she switches doctors, and her meds switch along with the diagnosis. Yet, her charm stays the same, with an inner beauty that makes folks smile.
Malya was living with me for a bit of time, in between psychiatric treatment places and a group home. She was loads of fun to be around, but quite impossible to live with. Malya lives her life based on whims rather than disciplined rules. She’s like a mural too big to fit on paper. Her personality runs out of the lines and out of the paper, painting her bigger than mere rules.
Malya made life interesting, precisely because she found life interesting. She’d become absorbed in an interest and immerse herself into it until moving on to a new one a short time later. At one point, she was into Dance, Dance, Revolution and therein was a problem for me. If Malya’s interest was something that could be brought home to me, I had no problem being enthused about it for her sake. However, now she was badgering me to get dressed, take a train, and watch her perform her dance moves.
Malya is persistent. Negative responses go floating above her comprehension. One week I pushed off seeing Malya do her Dance, Dance Revolution gig. Another week, she let me off the hook. Eventually, however, Malya wore away my resistance. Came the day that I set off with Malya to see her Dance, Dance Revolution moves.
For those as uninitiated into this game as I was, let me explain it. There’s a platform with pictures of feet and a screen in front. When the quarters hit the right slot, music begins playing. On the screen little arrows light up in a sequence, challenging you to move that way. On the platform pictures of feet also light up in a sequence, challenging you to move your feet exactly as instructed. The game gets harder and harder as the music gets faster and faster, and your feet have to dance about quicker and quicker.
Her lip caught between her teeth, her eyes narrowed in concentration, Malya began. Her eyes were glued to the screen and her feet flew: right, left, left, right, back and forth. As the game picked up speed and instructions flashed fast, Malya reached for a pole and clutched it tightly so as not to fall. Her feet moved so lightening quickly, I saw only blurs of movement instead of distinct feet. By now her mouth was open like a fish’s out of water, as she lost her breath in her dance. Sweat was pouring out of every pore in her body. But her feet didn’t miss a beat. Left, right, right left, forward, back. Move, move, move. I felt out of breath just watching her. She was good. Nay, she was better than good. She was awesome at it.
The music finally stopped, and Malya staggered off. After catching her breath, she smiled at me and said, “I’m going to teach you the secret of how to be as good as me.” I had no intention of ever doing this in public, thank you, anyway, Malya. However, I decided to let Malya enjoy telling me the secret of how to do it right.
“You know what it is,” Malya said, a serious absorbed expression on her face, “it’s about keeping your concentration fully on the instructions. Don’t look at your feet. Don’t look at anything or anyone around you. Because if you look away from the screen, even for a second, you’ll miss a beat or lose your footing. Just look at the instructions. And move your feet exactly how the instructions tell you. ”
In the midst of the chaos Malya brought into my life, she gave me such clarity. The way to successfully do great things with your life is to look at the instructions. You have to move to the beat of the instructions G-d gave us. Don’t look at what your neighbors or classmates are doing. Don’t look at what you are accomplishing. Just keep moving to the instructions. Because if you do that, you dance to a higher beat, you create revolutions of goodness. Faster and faster the Heavenly Court will move the tempo – G-d will send you more Mitzvos, more opportunities to do kindness to others. Grab a hold of any support and move your feet, my friend. And never let your eyes leave the instructions.
Dance on, dance well, my friends, with the insight of Malya.
 Name changed to protect the person and her family’s privacy