I haven’t responded to the writing prompts from The Daily Post before, though I do notice them each day. Today, however, that one-word prompt carries special meaning for me in the context of this blog.
Of course, the word Open means something much different to a competitive Irish dancer than it might to someone who isn’t immersed in that culture. It doesn’t mean to be spread wide, or for the door to be ajar, or to be welcoming to all. It means to be the best. To be an Open Champion means you’ve made it to the top. You’re in the major leagues now. You clawed your way up through the grades and won three (in my region, at least) preliminary championship competitions. You don’t tottle through seven dances anymore, you perfect one treble jig or hornpipe, one reel or slip jig, and one set dance designed only for you. You float across a large stage. You don’t just get a few medals to mark a single win, you get a sash and a trophy and you stand on the podium. You command the respect and hard work of your teachers. You’re the best of the best. This is the top.
Except…it’s not the top. When you first advance from Preliminary to Open Championships, you may find yourself fighting hard just so you don’t finish last. You may be competing against dancers that have been in the game 20 or more years. You may not recall at Oireachtas. Even if you qualify for Worlds, an elite group indeed!, you’re still fighting for a recall there. You want to become a World Medal Holder. And when you are, you want to get in the top 5 and on the podium. When you make it to the podium, you want to be the World Champion.
And when you’re the World Champion? You want to keep improving. You want to be the World Champion next year. And the next. A never-ending quest of self improvement.
Even though I’ll never be a World Champion, I will still strive for it. The beauty of all this is there is never a ceiling. There is always a new goal to aim for. This is why I’m dropping down. Not because I think I’ll ever be a World Medal Holder, but because I want to chase it. I want to chase Open. The “Adult” category has been good to me in many aspects, but I’m pushing against the ceiling already in just two years. Even if I did win 1st place in every Prizewinner dance, where’s the excitement in that? It doesn’t get me to Worlds. It doesn’t even get me to Preliminary Championships. I don’t want to be contained and dancing at the same nominal level for the next 10 to 20 years. I want my potential and possibilities open. I want to be Open.
In dropping down, I’m issuing a challenge to myself. Keep working. Keep running. Keep dancing. Keep dreaming.
Open, I’m coming after you.