Most of us who consciously seek balance in our lives do so because we’re perfectionists. What others consider as ‘good enough’, we see as ‘lots of room for improvement.’ For many of us, life and its challenges come easy. So when things don’t go our way, we take it especially hard.
Two months ago, I took my first lesson on the flying trapeze. I’d wanted to try the trapeze, oh, forever, and my fantastic husband knew this (quite possibly thanks to my incessant talking about it), and noticed that there were lessons being held at The Crossings here in Austin. My husband gave me a lesson as my birthday gift, thinking that I could get this silliness out of my system.
I got hooked. I’ve spent this autumn exploring the technical and psychological aspects of trapeze. I’ve read books on the history of trapeze. But, mostly, I’ve had fun. I’ve found something I’m good at and feel like it’s been wanting to be a part of my life forever.
The thing about trapeze is that it’s both powerfully internal while requiring a great deal of trust in the other people involved. The person helping you off the board, the guys pulling your safety lines, and– ultimately– the catcher. Striking the balance between an internal focus to pull off the trick and an outer awareness of how others are working with you is the challenge. And, when it all works beautifully, the joy.
I’ve been experiencing this joy for several weeks, as each new trick I learned went smoothly. Feeling the rush as the catcher shouts “gotcha” and you swing together is inexplicable. I’ve known nothing but success and the satisfying feeling of accomplishment.
Until last night. I first worked on my swing– the basic component of trapeze, as it allows you to generate momentum necessary for big tricks– and achieved some marked improvement. I then tried my first ‘back end’ trick, which uses the swing to set up the fluid movement of getting into the correct form. My first straddle whip was gorgeous. Felt great, looked great– good for me! My second one was a disaster. I was confident I could do even better than the first, but that translated into overthinking and working too hard–which in the world of trapeze means working against gravity. Not a great idea when you’re trying to turn your body upside down. I tried the straddle a third time, and it was good. Not solid, but passable.
And then, for the first time in my short trapeze career, I missed the catch. I was too wobbly and my timing was off, and the catcher and I just didn’t connect. And I knew it was my fault, because if the world-famous Peter Gold couldn’t catch me, no one could.
So, in my attempt to achieve that elusive perfection, I’ve watched the video over and over and over and over. And you know what was off? My balance.
Oh, ironic life. You are rich.
Want to see for yourself?