A Beach, A Barre, and Inspired Movements

I was in Costa Rica recently delivering the keynote address at an international conference. The agenda of the conference was intellectually stimulating; there were many great minds in attendance. I enjoyed connecting and re-connecting with colleagues I had not seen in some time. I addressed the delegates during the first couple of hours of the conference, speaking about how to improve the consumer experience during the delivery of healthcare.

As is often the case with business, I was traveling alone. One of my personal goals for the week was to take the time to work fitness into my schedule twice a day. I had decided that when I wasn’t attending conference events, I would enjoy the magnificent landscape by foot (I had mapped out a running course that was about 3 miles long and included beautiful stretches of beach as well as canopied trails) or I would use some fallen driftwood on the beach as a makeshift barre, moving through exertions and stretches that had become the backbone of the Barre Motion method. I alternated early mornings and early evenings with either a run or time at my driftwood “barre.”

One evening while I had my leg up on the “barre”, I noticed a stately gentleman who had come down to the beach. He was tall and fit, with a full head of beautiful silver hair, and a very dignified bearing. He had watched me at my “barre” for a moment or two and then continued walking down the beach deliberately, as though he had a plan. He found what he was looking for – a stick about 3 feet long. He walked a few yards closer to the water and began to use the stick to draw something in the sand. It was sunset by this time and hard for me to see exactly what he was doing. I removed my leg from the piece of driftwood and walked a little closer to where he was standing. He had drawn a big heart in the sand, just beyond the reach of the waves that were softly rolling in. He was in the process of writing two letters in the middle of the heart when I approached him. The letters were MU. He had written them carefully, running the stick through the trough that formed the letters in the sand, several times.

He noticed me and in a friendly, inviting way, nodded at me to come closer. I nodded back and as I approached where he was standing, quietly commented that I thought his heart was beautiful. He told me that my stretching on the driftwood reminded him of someone who had meant much to him but was no longer within his reach. She had danced and stretched with some of the same movements he had seen me use. The letters stood for “Missing You.” I surmised that she had passed away, but looking back on it now, I don’t know for sure if that was at all his meaning.

It was a poignant moment between two people who knew nothing about each other and yet shared an understanding about what it means to miss someone. The kind of missing that aches in your soul and is always present, despite the passage of time and the demands of the day. As he walked away, his gate was steady, but his determination had softened. A wave broke shortly thereafter and his heart in the sand was washed away. I picked up his stick and walked several paces back, away from the water. It was dusk by this time and I was worried that I was going to miss the light. I took his stick and drew my own heart in the sand. I etched the letters MU in the center of the heart and took a photo of it. Later that evening, when I was back in my room, I messaged the photo of the heart to someone I was missing – but who was thankfully still within my reach.

The man on the beach had been inspired by my movements and I, in turn, had been inspired by his. This is my wish for everyone who comes into the Barre Motion studio: that you are inspired to graceful and meaningful movements by the graceful and meaningful movements of others.

Miami Beach
25 July 2014