32 Things I Learned At Dance Marathon 2012

image of the DM Grand Total

What a proud moment

Editor’s Note: This post has been edited from it’s original in order to improve the formatting and readability, but the content remains the same.

 

This is going to be a long post. I mean a seriously long post.

In other words, if you have to go to the bathroom, do it now. I’ll wait.

You’re back?

Ok, great, here we go.

Right now it is 1:12 AM on Sunday, April 1st, 2012, and typing this up right now is a big mistake.

I’ve been awake since 5:25 AM on Saturday morning due to this crazy little event called Dance Marathon (DM). For those of you who don’t know what DM is, here are the basics: DM is the largest student run philanthropic event in New Jersey. Last year we raised over $380,000 for families that have children with cancer and blood disorders.

It is a 32 hour event where dancers raise $350 and then pledge to spend the entire time on their feet.

That means no sitting.

Which also means no sleeping.

In other words, calling it really difficult is a gross understatement.

Anyways, here I am, just past hour 15, and right smack dab in the middle of my sleep shift (as an Assistant Director, I get a 5 hour sleep shift, presumably to maintain sanity in the face of the stress of the event).

Obviously, I am still awake, hence the mistake. I may regret this at 8:00 AM, but I don’t care. I feel inspired right now, and that’s that.

So without further ado, here are the 32 things I learned from this year’s Dance Marathon. Again, to state the obvious, the Marathon is nowhere near over, and so I’m not going to finish this post in one sitting. But I want to at least get this started, so here we are.

Sorry, I guess there was further ado…

 

What I Learned: Part 1

1. When Inspired, Do Something About It.

Despite it being totally irrational and seemingly not in my best interest to be writing this right now, I’m doing it anyways.

Why?

Because I feel inspired.

I just spent the past hour or so laying in bed, totally unable to sleep because all I could think about was the huge amount of wisdom I had gained since this past morning.

I simply needed to start doing this.

That’s a pretty bland example though, so here is a much better one. The entire reason I have the position within DM that I currently do is because as a dancer during my sophomore year, I felt inspired.

To be honest, I don’t know what it was. Maybe it was family hour. Maybe it was sleep deprivation. Maybe it was something in the food.

Whatever it was, I was inspired, and I simply had to do more. Applying to be an Assistant Director was a fantastic decision, and I have never looked back.

2. Dancing Is Fun.

In case this one seems trivial to some of you, understand that dancing can seem far more intimidating than it actually should be.

Many people are very self-conscious when they dance. I (usually) am one of them.

Today, that is not the case in the slightest. The fact is, I can dance as silly or ridiculous as I feel like, and if I believe what I’m doing is cool, everyone else will too.

Plus, I’m actually pretty good, though nowhere near as good as that kid in the opening ceremony.

3. Dressing Well Makes Me Look Better.

Now, I knew this one before, but there is a difference between knowing something and knowing something.

This past summer I got used to wearing business casual for work, and I started to enjoy it. But I don’t generally dress that way for a normal day. In fact, I would say I dress quite averagely.

But all decked out in my slacks and DM polo, I felt great.

My old pledge educator came back to visit all my bros at the Marathon, and after exchanging the necessary bro hug, he commented on how great I looked. He asked if I was in better shape than I had been in the past, despite the fact that I am absolutely positively in worse shape now than I was before.

I know why I looked better than usual, and it definitely wasn’t that.

4. Dressing Terribly Also Makes Me Look Better

…kind of.

One of the best parts about DM is the theme hours. The overall theme of DM this year is a road trip, and individual theme hours include different places in the U.S.A. where we might drive through.

Since everything is bigger in Texas, I donned my 4XL “Dirty Dirty” Jersey I had gotten at a thrift store several years earlier, folded my bandana in the style of los banditos, threw on the hat provided at the theme hour station, and loaded the water pistol so generously provided by our Morale team.

Naturally, I looked absolutely ridiculous:

image of me looking ridiculous

Yep, that’s me.

I swear, I got more strange looks between 8:30 and 10:00 PM than I had this entire school year.

The best part was when I walked up to the girl at the theme hour booth and asked for a hat. She jumped as if she just saw a ghost, and then after a brief moment of confusion, told me she thought I was robbing her.

5. We Should Find “Flow” In Our Daily Activities.

Being in a state of flow is the same as being “in the zone”.

We’ve all experienced this phenomenon before. Sometimes, we are so engrossed in whatever activity we are performing that nothing else exists. We are fully present in what we are doing, and we exude “unconscious competence”.

You all know what I’m talking about.

Normally this happens when you do something you love.

But for me, it happened during my Bin Valet shift. Basically, this is monotonous and repetitive manual labor.

It took a few minutes before I got into it, but between 2:15 PM and 3:05 PM, nothing else existed. I was one with the dancers, the dancer bins, and the other volunteers on Bin Valet duty.

It sounds silly as I read it back to myself, but there is no better way to describe it.

The point I’m trying to make here is that even the worst of our daily activities can be experienced as unparalleled ecstasy.

If this sounds like hyperbole to you, then you simply haven’t experienced it yet.

Don’t worry, you will one day.

6. Be Yourself…Or Better Yet, Accept Yourself.

Probably the most cliché advice ever given is to be yourself.

In some sense, this is fantastic advice.

In another sense, it is one of the most stupid and counterproductive things you can possibly tell someone. After all, if you are unsatisfied with where you are in life, continuing to be yourself will lead to continued dissatisfaction.

Duh.

A much better piece of advice would be to accept yourself.

Wherever you are on this rollercoaster ride we call life is totally fine.

Think about it.

Even a massive redwood tree was once a little sapling. But the whole time that it was growing, it was always the same redwood tree.

And what about some celebrity or person you idolize?

I’m sitting here listening to my all time favorite musician, Anthony Green of Circa Survive. Wow, what a heavenly voice.

But fifteen years ago when he wasn’t in a hip band, he was still Anthony Green. Winston Churchill was still Winston Churchill before World War 2. Thomas Edison was still Thomas Edison before he ever invented a thing.

The fact that we are on a path of growth does not mean that we are insufficient right now.

In fact, if we ever reach that “ideal” vision of ourselves that we have, we were still once who we are now.

So instead of being yourself, allow yourself to change while knowing full well that you are completely and totally 100% and in all ways fine exactly as you are.

7. People Are Inherently And Generally Friendly.

On my way to the captain room to procure the above mentioned water pistol, BMac and myself passed by two girls sitting down on the way, and we simultaneously decided to deal with them after acquiring the water pistol (obviously the priority).

When we get back to them, BMac takes the lead.

He crouches down so that he can be eye to eye with these girls, and then asks if they need any help or if they are hurt at all.

After a fairly brief exchange, one of the girls made a comment that really stuck with me: “I’m surprised you guys were so friendly. I expected you to come over here and yell at us.” The girls stood up and Bmac left, but I was overcome by some mysterious compulsion to continue talking to them.

Ok, you got me, it’s because one of the girls was smoking hot.

Anyways, I had a nice conversation with this girl for several minutes afterwards. It turned out she was Israeli (that explains the hotness), and we therefore had some interesting conversation topics, since I will be going to Israel next year.

The point of this story is that we should operate under the belief that most people are friendly and actually want to talk with you.

Sure, they may not start the conversation. They may not even be into it that much at first.

But everyone desires interesting conversation with new people, and therefore we should assume rapport with others.

8. We Should Assume Rapport With Others.

If I had to pick one thing that determines whether an interaction with a stranger will be “successful” is whether or not I am assuming rapport.

What I mean by this is that we should, before going into the interaction, pretend as though we already knew the other person.

Instead of being all formal and creepy when meeting someone, put a huge grin on your face as though they were an old friend you hadn’t seen in years, and greet them just as enthusiastically.

You’d be surprised how much of a difference this makes.

With regards to DM shenanigans, this is incredibly relevant. As a member of the Central Planning Team (CPT), I am constantly having to deal with new captains or volunteers that I haven’t worked with before. I need them to cooperate, but I still want everyone involved to enjoy themselves.

By assuming rapport with any new volunteer you meet, both of you will enjoy the interaction more, and the volunteer is more likely to comply with your requests.

9. Sleep Is Really, Really, Really Important.

Now it is 3:09 AM, and I am nearing the end of my “sleep” shift.

While my experience writing this for the past few hours has been cathartic, I can’t help but feel my sleep deprivation taking its toll.

Sure, the green tea helps, but there is simply no substitute for a good night’s sleep.

I’m going to keep this one short and to the point. To blatantly rip off/tribute Homer Simpson’s classic quote in reference to beer, I say, “Michael no function sleep well without.”

10. The Best Laid Plans Don’t Always Work Out, So You Need To Be Flexible.

I don’t think anyone else on the CPT of DM would disagree with me on this one.

We need to be able to constantly adjust to the changing reality on the ground.

Too many dancers need their bins at once. A performer is stuck in traffic. Volunteers don’t do exactly what you wanted them to do.

Whatever the situation is, I doubt it worked out in the exact way that you wanted it to.

That’s ok, accept it (this is kind of a corollary to accepting yourself as discussed above).

I really expected myself to come back to the Marathon at 4:00 AM with a solid three hours of sleep under my belt. At this stage, all I have to say about that is, “hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!!!!”

 

Part 2: Now It’s Monday

11. Combining Peoples’ Efforts Can Multiply The Results.

I had an interesting interaction with a freshman volunteer in front of the smoking section on Sunday morning.

Despite being only a volunteer and having no prior experience with DM, he was incredibly excited about it.

He was on security duty in one of the most boring locations, which I would have thought would be somewhat demoralizing.

Instead, he was enthused and fully intended to dance next year.

This made me realize how all the parts of the Marathon fit together. Even the mundane duties needed to be accomplished, and this person was just the right person to do it.

While I would have been upset at having that duty, especially without having the reference experience of previous Marathons to understand its importance.

Realistically, we need a ton of people to make the Marathon work. The sum is greater than the whole of its parts.

For example, you can’t have a function like that of the Morale team without getting a number of people involved. A single morale captain would be just about useless. Even two or three could barely accomplish anything.

But when you have a large, competent team of captains, suddenly a very useful, important, and fun thing is created.

image of me in a zoot suit

Yet another theme hour costume.

12. Everyone Has Something Of Value To Contribute.

In economics, there is a concept called comparative advantage.

I won’t go into too much detail, but the upshot is that even if I am better than someone else in every way, combined we can still produce more through our division of labor than we could while working individually.

This is actually really fascinating, because it is actual proof that literally everyone is useful and can contribute in some way.

The fact is, everyone has a different set of skills that can be applied in many different areas.

Nobody is useless; everyone has something to add to the formula, whether it be for a successful Marathon or just to add value to your own life.

Why else would we have so many teams?

I think I could do a good job at volunteer management, but I think my skills are more suited towards finance than most other people, so that’s why I have the position that I have.

13. Always Be Grateful For What You Have.

This is certainly one of the most obvious lessons that DM should teach us.

There are people out there who are living in conditions we can hardly fathom.

Sometimes we assume this only happens in other countries far, far away.

Not true. No matter where you go, there will be people who are far worse off than you are.

Family hour provides a stark reminder of how quickly things can turn sour. Most of these families had totally normal lives, and then everything changed in one doctor visit. In one day, everything can be lost, so always be grateful for the things you have.

You never know how temporary something can be, so get the most out of it at all times.

But even if things seem bad, you always have something going for you.

This is a fact.

Consider the comparative advantage concept from above. Even if you have no skills or assets, you are still a useful person who has something to contribute to the world around you.

You have value.

14. Always Focus On The Positive.

I don’t mean this in the traditional sense that people usually consider, although that is important too.

Don’t think about a purple and gold striped elephant walking along the highway!

…what did you just think about?

Of course, the elephant.

Our minds are incapable of processing negative statements, and as a consequence, we often focus on the exact opposite of what we intend to.

When a dancer says their feet hurt, telling them they “shouldn’t think about how their feet hurt” is counterproductive. Instead, tell them to think about how great they should feel about what they are doing for the kids.

This is an incredibly powerful concept. It can totally change the way you approach many situations.

Heck, my failure the follow this probably contributed to my missed sleep shift.

While I laid in bed trying to sleep, I kept telling myself to stop thinking about the Marathon and that I could worry about it after I woke up. Obviously I kept thinking of DM (In this case, it wasn’t all bad, since I got a bunch of writing done).

15. You Can “Fake It Til You Make It”.

At around 2:00 PM on Sunday, I hit a wall.

No, not literally.

I mean I just totally crashed physically and mentally, and it all hit me at once.

I was very good, even at times manic or hyper before then.

But right around 2:00, I became overwhelmingly exhausted.

First, I went to the CPT room to sit down and take a break.

Mistake. Man, did it get worse after that.

So a few minutes later, I decided to just head back down into the pit and force myself back into it.

I found my beloved Chi Psis and began to dance.

image of Chi Psi's in DM

Just bro-ing out with some bros

I started smiling again. I started yelling and being silly as I had been able to hours before.

Did I feel like smiling? Dancing? Running around?

Not at all. It was completely faked.

But then a magical thing happened: around five minutes later, I was happy again. I had energy. I even got my voice back a little.

16. A Voice Is Not Necessary.

Pretty much right from the start of the Marathon, I had lost my voice to a considerable degree.

So did Zain, my DM Gear captain. This made certain types of communication very, very difficult.

We definitely worked slower at certain things because we simply couldn’t talk to each other. Somehow the message got across, however (and I’m not talking about things like texting each other). It all just worked somehow.

Non-verbal communication was completely sufficient to get the message across.

Not having a voice could have impacted my enjoyment of the Marathon a lot more than it actually did.

I was concerned towards the start of the Marathon that I simply wouldn’t be able to enjoy it if I couldn’t speak normally.

This wasn’t the case at all.

I still was able to dance, run around, and experience all there was to experience without much loss of pleasure. Cool!

17. Cough Drops Are Amazing.

Particularly Halls menthol-lyptus flavored ones.

Seriously, I went through over 60 of these throughout the weekend.

18. Recognize The Exceptional Efforts Of Others.

I think one of the best things we do in DM is have most spirited dancer and most spirited captain awards.

Some people go far above and beyond the requirements of their position, and they deserve recognition for this.

Both Ashley Gross and Jack West earned the awards they won, but they aren’t the only ones who did an exceptional job. There are a number of captains who worked far harder and more enthusiastically than the average, and there are plenty of dancers who were an absolute treat to be around.

We need to take time to recognize them.

For anyone who was at DM, here is a call to action: go out and find three people from this Marathon who you think deserves recognition, and recognize them. Tell them how awesome they are, and how much you appreciate it.

This is not a DM specific concept. In every area of life, there are people who go above and beyond. Instead of just letting it happen, tell them!

Both of you will be better off that way.

19. Have Systems To Help Manage Workflow.

Some things become so much easier as soon as there is a system in place for it.

The Critical Path Network makes setting up and cleaning up run far more smoothly than if we were to do things arbitrarily. Donor Drive completely revolutionized the work of the finance team last year. I’m sure there are a ton of examples of systems that improve efficiency in DM, but you get the point.

Having a system means you no longer need to actively think about what you need to do; it can just “happen” without nearly as much conscious effort.

Just imagine how powerful this can be when applied to other areas of your life.

One source of a huge amount of wasted time in my life is checking my email. I always have it open, and I go through my emails at least five times per day.

I’ll usually wait to act upon some emails during each of those times because I know I will be checking them again later. This wastes so much time because then I need to reread the email.

A much better system would be to check my email at the same time every day, and just once.

20. Take A Few Moments To Pause And Reflect.

I stole this one from Dean A., but I feel it deserves a mention in this list.

The totality of the accomplishments this past weekend didn’t fully hit me until I spent about five minutes meditating on it from the upstairs view after the final meeting at around 4:20 PM.

My job was to raise the $84,000 operating budget for the Marathon.

As I looked upon all the dancers, the stage, the theme hour table, the computers station, the video games, the entire catering section, the production team, the DJ’s, and everything else in the main gym, I realized how my efforts made everything possible.

It was a really incredible moment for me, as the feeling of accomplishment coursed through my veins.

There isn’t much comparable to that feeling.

21. There Is More Than One Kind Of “Strength”.

Strength is more than just how much you can bench press.

There is a definite physical component to the Marathon, since standing for 32 hours straight isn’t a walk in the park.

That being said, there is far more to it than just the physical. Almost everyone is physically capable of completing the Marathon. I know I did both my freshman and sophomore years, despite being a somewhat scrawny and frail person myself.

But, as anyone who has done a security shift knows, not everyone actually does what they are supposed to. Many go off to hide away somewhere and sit down.

What separates those who sit down and those who power through it the whole time?

It’s a different kind of strength from the physical.

DM is an emotionally and mentally draining experience as well.

After Club DM is over, there is not a single person who can truthfully say they are not exhausted in every way.

Some people decide to give in to this exhaustion, but the strong are able to fight through it and do what they know they have to do.

22. There Is More Than One Kind Of “Beauty”.

This could perhaps have something to do with the delirious state one finds themself in after being awake for a day and a half, but by the end of the Marathon, everyone was much better looking to me.

This is despite the fact that from a more traditional standpoint, everyone probably looked disgusting and gross.

This happened because I was seeing another kind of beauty.

By the end of the Marathon, the incredible strength in everyone who had made it that far manifested itself in how people looked.

The bags under peoples’ eyes were evidence of their beauty rather than an ugly feature. Peoples’ B.O., oily hair, and unkempt facial hair became a testament to the spiritually cleansing experience they had undergone.

23. Our Social Circle/Friendships Are Our Greatest Assets.

When things start getting rough and we want to sit down or bow out entirely, we can draw upon the strength of our friends to lift us up.

When we see the total go up and realize that we’ve raised $442,075.06 for the kids, we can share in that elated state with our friends.

Friends simply make everything better.

Plus, there is definitely something to be said about having friends who are willing to drive to Wawa at 5:00 AM and get you coffee and a sandwich.

image of friends of mine visiting

Val even traveled quite a distance to come see me.

24.  Get Your Priorities Straight.

Some things are way more important than others.

Occasionally it is obvious which things should be prioritized, but this is not always the case.

It was obvious to me this fall that getting enough staff to a football game was worth more than having an extra bar night or trying to sell a little extra DM Gear.

During the Marathon, my priorities became much less obvious.

Selling DM gear was of course critical during this time, but most of that work could be delegated.

I had to decide if I was more useful working extra Bin Valet shifts, acting as a de facto Morale captain or roaming security, or any other of the million things I could have done.

Rather than aimlessly picking a thing to do, I would ask myself every half hour, “Is this the most important thing I should be doing right now? Is there something else I can do that will provide more value overall?”

This is a pretty good tactic to use in general.

25. You Shouldn’t Make Assumptions About People Until You’ve Talked To Them.

At around 7:45 AM on Sunday, I was involved in a lengthy conversation with my friend Nate aka Ninja who was a dancer.

I don’t remember the context, but this lesson was just something he had said during that conversation.

I hadn’t really thought about it before, but it’s so true.

And if you think that you don’t make assumptions about people before you meet them, you are deluding yourself.

Here are a couple common ones: “She probably has a boyfriend”, “He looks like a weird kid, I shouldn’t talk to him”, “That person is totally drugged out right now”.

And then of course, about a million other ones.

After that conversation, I started paying attention to the previously unconscious assumptions I made about people before I even started talking to them.

Turns out they were very, very inaccurate.

I’ll bet you are just as bad as I am at guessing like this. People are just way too complicated to make judgments like that so quickly.

Maybe you’ll be surprised by how professional the person with the long hippy hair is, or how silly and spontaneous that guy who always wears a suit to the office is.

26. You Don’t Need To Follow Others To Have A Good Time.

At around 8:10 AM I was leaning against a table in the catering section with a bunch of bros.

The dance floor was empty except for two girls dancing and being silly together.

I couldn’t help but think back to one night in Peru, where there was nobody on the dance floor in the club we were at…until a dozen Chi Psi bros started tearing it up.

We were going to have a great time whether or not everyone else was going to. Soon enough, people saw how much fun we were having and the dance floor became packed.

We were like celebrities. It was awesome.

It doesn’t matter what anyone else is doing.

If you think something would be fun to do even if nobody else is doing it, you should do it!

Don’t follow the crowd; be self-amused. Learn to rely on yourself for your entertainment rather than external things, and you will never be bored again.

27. Don’t Be Afraid To Express Your Emotions Fully.

This one is primarily for the manly men reading this, but still holds true for everyone.

A lot of people are afraid to express their emotions.

This is a shame, because emotions are a huge part of the human experience, and failing to express them closes off a huge part of the world to you.

If you were at the Marathon and you didn’t cry during Family Hour, chances are you weren’t fully expressing your emotions.

I used to have a really hard time with this, so I understand that if you aren’t already expressing your emotions, it is easier said than done.

I needed to consciously practice expressing my emotions before it became more natural. I’m still FAR from fully expressive, and I need a lot of work.

To anyone who needs improvement in this area, I will now describe to you the technique I have been using to help me out.

If you detect an emotion within you, you need to try and feel it from the inside. In order to do this, you need to slow down the chatter in your mind.

This is because if we suppress our emotions, we tend to do so by analyzing them first. We try to label the emotion and compartmentalize it, which makes it less authentic.

Don’t analyze. Just accept yourself.

Accept that you are feeling an emotion, and turn your attention inward to how your body feels.

Then the emotion will flow outward to your expression.

28. You Have To Be Able To Forgive Yourself.

Fact: everyone makes mistakes.

There is just no getting around it.

And while it is important to acknowledge any mistakes you make, we sometimes will hold the equivalent of a self-directed grudge. We dwell on this mistake, and beat ourselves up over it.

It is a tragic thing that Josh Goldstein, who was Chi Psi’s Adopt-a-Family kid, passed away about a month ago. Ever since then, I have been berating myself for not spending enough time with him despite being one of the liaisons who was supposed to communicate with him regularly.

It’s hard for me to write this section, not just because of the nature of the topic, but also because it is very difficult for me to describe the process that has gone on in my head, but I’ll do my best here.

At least once per day since I found out that Josh had died, I would get this strange, hollow feeling in my body, as though everything inside me just kind of didn’t belong there anymore. It’s kind of like I didn’t deserve to have the health that I take for granted.

Natalie Imbruglia probably described the feeling best in her song Torn (guilty pleasure):

“I’m cold and I am shamed
Lying naked on the floor
Illusion never changed
Into something real
I’m wide awake
And I can see the perfect sky is torn.”

This is something I’ve felt every day for several weeks now.

I simply could not forgive myself for my neglect. The fact is, I messed up. There is no way of getting around it.

As the CPT, alumni, and several others gathered in the rafters for a view of Family Hour, that torn feeling came up, stronger and more intense than it ever had.

Overwhelmingly so.

It got to the point where I was so pained by it that I couldn’t even touch the people next to me for a few minutes, because I felt like I would contaminate them, as though I were diseased and would infect Vittoriana or Ajay with my neglectful character.

And then something interesting happened.

My mind flashed back to the meeting where John Reinhardt had broken the news of Josh’s death to the brotherhood.

Specifically, John had said something that suddenly took on a new light. Before Josh had died, he had said that his only hope was that we wouldn’t forget him after he was gone.

I kept visualizing Josh saying this, over and over again for about a minute, and then I realized something important.

There was no way I was going to forget him. And there was no way I was going to make the same mistake. And then I forgave myself.

And then that torn, hopeless feeling faded away into nothingness.

Josh, you will not be forgotten.

29. It Is Important To Celebrate Your Accomplishments.

There is a CPT tradition to go to Stuff Yer Face on Sunday night after cleanup has ended and celebrate the accomplishments of a year of hard work for the kids.

And what an accomplishment it was, to raise $442,075.06 FTK. Wow. Just wow.

30. Families First.

Nobody has a perfect family life, but unless you were seriously abused, you probably have much to be grateful for with regards to the things your family has done for you.

Everyone in my family has made my life far more wonderful.

There is no way I could document it all in this blog post, so I will just focus on how my family has helped me with regards to the Marathon.

Everyone in my family helped me reach my fundraising total.

My sister, who was a former Assistant Director on the finance team, has donated substantial amounts to me every year. She is also the reason I got involved with Dance Marathon in the first place, and has helped me prepare for my early experiences as a dancer, and inspired me to apply to be an AD myself.

image of my siblings

My siblings and I from WAY back when

My brother, always the rational one, has helped me out considerably through various conversations even if he didn’t realize it. For example, when we talk to each other about what we want out of life, his perspectives always help me get a clearer idea of why I am involved with DM.

And then of course, there are my parents. Every year, they have come to visit me at the Marathon, and it is always greatly appreciated. The care packages are also great (particularly the Burt’s Bees foot cream as a dancer).

Of course, there is so much more than this, but I’m going to stop so I can finish writing this post while still an undergrad.

31. Everything Counts.

To everyone involved, be they CPT members, captains, dancers, volunteers, donors, friends who delivered coffee, etc.: know that whatever contribution you made, it was vitally important.

The huge amounts of money we raised is just the cumulative sum of many small donations (and some large ones). Every dollar counts.

But it is far from just the money that matters.

The whole DM experience is one to be cherished, and everyone played a huge role, no matter how small they think their contribution may have been.

The Marathon includes every car driver who threw their spare change into some stranger’s can at a New Brunswick intersection. It includes every professor who lets you take your midterm a day late because of the commitment you made this past weekend. And it includes every Facebook friend who liked your “FTK” status.

32.  Surrender Yourself.

This last part of the DM Credo has always been a little bit troubling to me.

I always interpreted “surrender” to mean sacrifice.

The libertarian in me dislikes the collectivist notion this seems to imply, as though I “owe” something to others and should subjugate my own needs to that of some other person.

I no longer interpret it that way.

It took a long time, but I finally realized what it actually means to surrender yourself.

“Surrender Yourself” is just a simpler way of describing the connection we should feel to every other being in this universe.

The rest of the world is a reflection of yourself.

To surrender yourself means that you are acknowledging the interconnectivity of everything. Yourself is really two words: your and self. What you think of as yourself is only a miniscule part of who you really are.

It means that when someone else is hurt, you are also hurt. When someone else is happy, you share in that happiness.

When you see something that is wrong in the world, you should realize that you are connected to it.

And trying to fix it is not something only for the most altruistic of us, but rather an opportunity to better ourselves as well.

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Comments

  1. I absolutely agree with everything you mentioned here. I’m happy you took the time to reflect upon a year’s worth of Dance Marathon. So awesome!

  2. You’ve all worked hard for a good cause. Feel good because ya done good.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] impossible. I would be on my feet all day, which gets extremely tiring, extremely quickly (although my experience with Dance Marathon made this easier for me). That being said, bonnaroovians had an incredibly [...]

  2. […] personally was able to raise a lot more money for Dance Marathon because I was so excited about it myself; friends of mine who I hadn’t talked to in years […]

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