Monday, September 28, 2009

Finding the Perfect Dream House


I have an acquaintance who just bought a new house. He's a smart, successful, shrewd guy, and there's no way that he's going to buy a house that is any bit less of a reflection of his smart successful shrewdness - so he made his agent show him about seventy different houses over the course of one month. None of them made the grade - too narrow, too wide; too old, too new; too much landscaping, too little; the location is no good, it's too expensive, the decor is outdated, the layout is too weird, the investment potential isn't good enough, the seller smells strange etc., etc., etc. It's a wonder that the agent didn't kill him.

Finally he settled on his "dream house" and made his offer - but now that his offer was accepted he hasn't had a day of peace. He's been calling his lawyer about three times a hour freaking out about the inspection, the survey, whether there's going to be some misrepresentation by the sellers, would he be cheated when it comes to the assumption of the utilities and adjustment of property taxes etc. etc.

Because god forbid that he made the wrong choice and that he wasn't as smart and as shrewd as he thought he was. It hasn't even occurred to him how absurd it is for him to buy a huge house with five bathrooms and a four car garage when only two people are going to live there. And they aren't the type to waste any money on household help.

I have another acquaintance who bought a little two-bedroom condo next to a hydro field. It's not close to all the shops and restaurants, it's way out in the suburbs, and the view - well, there's the hydro field, there's the road, and there's quite a bit of industrial area. The unit's not even going to appreciate that much.

He shrugs when you point out all the defects. "It's my slice of heaven," he says. "It's a place I can call HOME".

Guy #1 doesn't really need as much house as he bought. But he's under the thrall of a very powerful psychological force - the need NOT TO LOOK LIKE A LOSER. He needs something to show to his friends and family how much of a winner he is and how perfect his choice - do you think that all those house tours he is going to conduct and the house-warming barbeques he's going to throw are for his own benefit? How soon the novelty will wear off when reality settles in.

Just as a "Dream House" is not the equivalent of a "Dream Home" - great pedigree, fancy technique, elegant walks and impressive resume does not "Tango" make.

Man Yung has been telling me for years that I need to learn how to "Lose". It's hard to deprogram - my upbringing has instilled in me a very strong urge to be perfect and to succeed. They told me: Winning is everything, without it, your family would disown you and your friends would stop calling.

What a huge burden it is - to exhibit flawless technique, to follow perfectly, to never commit a milonga or cultural faux pas, to always choose to dance to the best music and with the best partner to build our Tango credentials. To be top five rather than bottom five. To be a Winner and never a Loser.

But tonight, thinking about what Man Yung has always told me about learning to "Lose" and the story of "Mr. Dream House", I think I have finally realized something. Tango is not about being perfect, and it is not about being a winner. Our dancing is not about him being better than me, or me being better than him, or us being better than anyone else, or even caring what other people think. If we make mistakes, or we dance like a couple of goofs - or even a couple of losers, it's ok because it's honest. It's an old cliche - "Dance like no-one is watching" - but how many people really know how to do that?

I dance with Man Yung, and he dances with me, because the Tango is in him, and the Tango is in me. To really dance Tango - we don't need to aspire to some kind of Tango Dream House. The most important thing is to have a space where we can laugh, live, play, be honest with each other, share our secrets, joys and sufferings, be each other's consolation, and above all - Love - "Be it ever so humble", there's no place like our Tango Home.

Alberto Dassieu

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