I’ve recently started taking aerial silks classes. For the unfamiliar, they’re long silken cloths – sometimes two loose pieces and sometimes one connected ‘hammock’ – that hang from the ceiling, which you use to perform acrobatic tricks on. You might have seen them in circus acts or in some of Pink’s music videos. I have a background in dance and a distaste for boring exercise, so it seemed right up my alley.
I’ve been to a handful of classes so far (at the time of this writing, which is now a few months old), learning how to climb the silks, how to lock myself off with foot wraps, how to twist and hold myself in certain poses, beginner spins, and other basics. This morning, I went to class and performed my first big “drop.”
Yeah, a drop is exactly what it sounds like.
First I inverted myself in the hammock in my lotus pose. Those of you familiar with yoga know lotus well; for aerial, just flip it upside down. (Believe it or not, aerial yoga is a thing!) Then I pulled myself up into my diaper wrap, which sounds just about as glamorous as it feels (egads, the bruises). Next I straightened my legs and leaned forward through my silks holding on behind my head so I was flying upright like superman, held by the fabric wrapped around my thighs and hips. Then I separated my legs, bent my knees, took a deep breath, and… took another deep breath, and took another deep breath…
And thought of the perfect metaphor.
Hey, is anyone surprised? What writer can resist the perfect metaphor?
It’s just that I was so scared. This drop in particular is nerve-wracking because you’re diving face-first towards the floor (or in this case, the big safety mat – don’t worry, Mom). Do you know how hard it is to look directly at the ground from several yards up in the air and fall forward? The human body has spent millions of years evolving to resist the face-plant.
I knew a week in advance that we’d be doing the big drop in that class, but still I was scared. And if there’s any emotion in my life that has taught me the most lessons, it has to be fear. (Again: horror writer.) But really, what writer doesn’t have to face fear on a regular basis? We have to overcome fear to choose to write, to tell people we write, to write the things we truly, deeply want to write no matter how dark or embarrassing or intimidating, to show people what we write, to submit what we write, to publish what we write, to do it all again and again even in the face of criticism and failure. Hell, fear is practically my assistant at this point. Maybe it can bring me the coffee.
So when I hung up there, perched in position for my drop, hesitating, I recognized it. Ah, I thought. This is fear again. Hello, you.
I’d done my prep-work. I’d taken my safety course. I’d listened carefully to instruction and asked questions as needed. I’d watched the example several times. I’d done the easier drops first to get used to the jolt of it – the feeling of letting go and having a piece of fabric catch you in the hips or under the arms. I double checked my posture: chest up to the ceiling, neck relaxed, hips forward, legs bent and apart, toes pointed. All I needed to do was let go.
My instructor said, “Inhale, exhale, close your eyes, and drop.”
I inhaled. I exhaled. Because I’ve always had a little bit of secret rebel in me, I kept my eyes open. I let go. [Read more…]