I explained to Man Yung. "I imagine that I'm on a tightrope. I begin in a wire harness with a safety net on a low wire, so I won't hurt myself when I fall. When I get better, I lose the harness and the safety net. To balance, I start with a balancing pole, and then lose that and use my arms, and then when my balance is better, I use nothing. And I'll walk on tightropes that are higher and higher, and longer and longer."
"So where are you now with the tightrope walking?" asked Man Yung.
"I'm trying to stay completely balanced and not step down until you have led me to do so. And I can't use any aids. That means I can't do anything to slow you down or to slow myself down to balance. I can't use toe taps or foot flicks - no split second adornments to cover-up when I've lost my balance and to time my steps. I cannot listen to the music myself to time my steps - I have to listen to you. And I have to disregard technique - no thinking about keeping any type of posture, or embrace, or collecting my feet, or pivoting a certain way. I focus only on the feeling of balance and timing."
"Is it working out for you?"
"Yes, I suppose. But it is hard to be completely minimalist in following. When you suddenly change directions, or change the way you do a step, sometimes my balance is thrown off. It's also impossible to do this when I'm tired. And also difficult with different leaders when I'm not used to dancing with them. However, I think that I'm on the right track," I said, my eyes gleaming with excitement. "My goal is to get to the point where I'm reduced to nothing but a single point of consciousness when I follow. Totally without weight, and therefore completely balanced. Then I'll be able to walk on the tightrope, further and further, without breaks in my balance. Across a city block. Across Niagara Falls. Or even to the Moon and back!"
"Hmmmmm," said Man Yung. "That sounds like Tango Zen bullshit."
I looked at him in shock. "What do you mean?"
"The theory sounds pretty, but in reality, sometimes Tango is like Charlie Chaplin at the circus, walking bow-legged on a tightope while monkeys are trying to pull down your pants. There are no perfect conditions in Tango. There's no one way to follow, no one theory that would work on everything, no one size fits all to the path of nirvana. The most important thing is for you to follow me with your heart!"
I frowned. "Yes, I suppose you are right. Dancing with you is really like Charlie Chaplin at the circus. Most days I'm lucky to escape with my life. Thanks!"