Sometimes importantlessons come from themost humble of places

Eric Steinkopff - Managing Editor

I truly enjoyed the Byron Berline Bluegrass Band and the opening group that warmed up the crowd before them Friday night during the barbecue dinner for the opening of the Great Plains Stampede Rodeo.

As some of my friends know, I study and teach ballroom, Latin, beach and even a little country western dancing, so I had an opportunity to stretch my legs without leaving town for a change.

Our little ballroom dance group that meets Monday evenings at the community center on Falcon Road, gathered at one end of the table Friday night and many of us were out on the floor, doing what we could to fit ballroom steps or groups of steps called “figures” into country western and bluegrass music — mostly successful.

But the highlight for me was watching the children who seemed oblivious to others as they simply moved to the music without a care in the world.

As adults we often must remind ourselves to “dance like nobody is watching.”

The children seem to be born that way. Maybe that is why I read that Jesus told the apostles to let the children come to him.

The pure innocence, openness and honesty is something to be admired. I guess I needed to be reminded.

For those of us who initially have hang-ups, the good news is, in the dance world and even elsewhere in life, we can get better — much better. But sometimes it happens so slowly that we almost don’t even notice.

I remember hearing about one of the ancient Asian martial arts — Kung Fu, possibly — and just one training regimen.

As the story goes, the student begins jumping in an out of a circle of rope on the ground, maybe as big as a pitcher’s mound, back and forth, all day long and continues to do so for about a week or so.

The key to progress is when it becomes easy.

Then the teacher scrapes some dirt out of that circle — not much — maybe an inch or so down.

The student barely even notices a change and jumps in and out all day long for a week or more, until it seems like nothing again.

Then the teacher scrapes out another inch of dirt and — you get the idea — the student jumps in and out all day long for another week or more.

So the progress goes — inch-by-inch, day-after-day, week-after-week — and eventually the student can leap in and out of a hole nearly as deep as he or she is tall.

All of this by starting a little bit at a time.

That’s how I began ballroom dancing — a little bit at a time and with a little bit of embarrassment.

I got over it. I still make lots of mistakes.

But we have a saying, “what happens on the dance floor stays on the dance floor.”

I still have to slow myself down sometimes — whether it’s dancing, work or even life in general.

Try as I might, I can’t accept the lessons of wisdom any faster when I’m “running” through things. It’s only when I slow down that I am able to grasp what I later find out to be that golden nugget I’m meant to learn.

I can’t run. I must slow down to a standard walking pace of about three miles an hour, to allow life’s lessons to sink in and get thoughtful reflection and true wisdom.

I can still hear my wise old chaplain — a mentor of mine during a difficult time in my military career from a past life — saying to me, “three miles an hour, Eric, three miles and hour.”

So in his honor, I think I’ll just walk for a little bit.

Eric Steinkopff

Managing Editor

Reach Eric Steinkopff at or 580-482-1221, ext 2072.

Reach Eric Steinkopff at or 580-482-1221, ext 2072.

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