Monday, April 02, 2012

the greatest of ease (is a big lie)

I’ve never understood people who do extreme sports (or other activities that seem to involve a lot of expensive gear) to “conquer their fears.” If I have a fear of sharks, I’ll avoid slitting my wrists and then going for a swim. Fear = conquered. It’s the unavoidable fears that keep me up at night: my uncertain future, various diseases, those creepy commercials that show people dying of lung cancer. If I could defeat my fear of never having children by skydiving, I would skydive.

That said….

AK gave me a flying trapeze lesson on the Santa Monica pier for my 35th birthday. I’ve been taking static trapeze classes, which are hell on the trapezius muscles*, but not so scary, given that the trapeze is about four feet off the ground. Flying trapeze involves climbing a rickety ladder to a platform in the sky, then flinging yourself off of it. I don’t love heights. I took the class because I do love flinging myself in various directions and because I love the circus; AK took the class because she loves me. Conquering any fears would be a meddlesome side effect.

But lo and behold, it was full of all the revelatory moments and important life lessons you might imagine. I can totally see why reality shows and corporations make their people do shit like this.

For example, one of the instructors informed me that I was having trouble hooking my legs over the trapeze because I was anticipating his call rather than waiting for it. In other words, I was trying to do something before I was ready—trying to make something happen on my command rather than wait for forces out of my control—and therefore making life harder for myself. Kind of like EVERYTHING I DO.

The class was canceled due to high winds halfway through. I don’t even want to know what that says about my life. But they still tried to get us to fork over $45 for photos of ourselves crouching on the platform and flying through the air. In most of the photos, I looked terrified but determined. AK looked highly skeptical, like she might give up and go shop for $10 designer knockoff sunglasses elsewhere on the pier at any minute. Again, this sounds about right.

When the wind upended one of the mats beneath the trapeze area, we took pictures of our very best terrified faces. It was nice to feel united against something, even if it was just wind.

As for life lessons, when you’re climbing the rickety ladder, you can’t even think about the ground let alone your genetic predisposition for cancer. I decided my motto for age 35 will be Just Look At The Rung In Front Of Me.

*Wait, is this why they’re called trapezius muscles?!


Terry Wolverton said...

Very brave, Cheryl, especially in high winds. And focusing on the rung in front of you is a very good practice for your 35th (or any other) year!

Tracy Lynn said...

They talk in AA about taking the next indicated step. It means deal with what is in front of you, instead of what could happen. It gets easier with practice.

Cheryl said...

Thanks for the encouragement, you two! :-)