Crystal Waters And Balloons – Playing With Art

Its Saturday, the last day at sea on a 7-day cruise to the Caribbean. Last night became one of the more memorable evenings I’ve had in a long time. Because I’m new to ballroom dance, I have been looking for social gatherings to practice my hard-earned dance steps. A typical cruise line will offer dance lessons with the activities team. So, I went about the ship looking for opportunities.

The theme was 70’s Disco Night and it was held in the Grand Foyer where everyone is watching on each level of the deck. You know how this can go: a few brave and well-intentioned souls who start out on the floor after the second song, sometimes they’re off-beat but they don’t care. Last night was no exception. Soon a few more got out there, then two or three more.

Then—an amazing thing happened. The Activities Manager showed up with bags of inflated balloons in blue and white, some large and some small. He started bouncing the balloons into the air over the heads of dancers and then he started dancing. The room went electric. All the people who were standing on the sidelines suddenly had the bravery to get on the dance floor. They were watching for a chance to slap at the balloons as they rose and fell overhead. Then folks started swaying to the music and a dance train was formed. It wound through the Foyer into the nearby passageways, growing longer and longer. The dance floor filled to overflowing capacity with dancers from every age, race, and ethnic family.

What changed the room from ho-hum to power-charged? The chance to play and feel like a kid again. Play is so important to adults, but few really take the time to work it into a fully-charged electronically measured day.

As an artist, painting is very much like play. I booked this cruise to teach a watercolor class on board as a guest speaker. I watched the 50-some partakers get caught up in the wonder of water and colors swirling around like balloons in air. I realized it is like being in elementary school. The sight of pristine colors, the virgin brush, and a blank page can take the mind to a different place. A place of innocence and fun.  

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