I am not a patient person. I've always had a hard time with waiting. I rush through things: books, writing, parenting.
But exercise always brings me up short and trapeze even more so because I'm not good at it. I'm not a natural. I have to work damn hard for every single move from the simplest to the hardest. But any exercise I think is a lesson in waiting.
When I first realized I loved being physically fit and that I was strong, I was also smack in the middle of the Weight Watcher's world. I lose weight so slow. It was a crawl to the finish line: .2. 5. oh wow one whole pound! I'd lie in bed and fantasize about what I might look like thin or fit or whatever and it felt so far away. It was hard going to meetings where people would consistently lose 2lbs per week or to watch others at the gym looking ribbed while I plodded along with my wee weights. I never watched (or watch) The Big Loser but I do admit that sometimes I'd long for things to be that fast.
But of course it's dangerous to lose weight that fast or to exercise that much with no experience. Too many stories from former contestants bear witness to that fact. Getting fit is a slow process. Shaping the body's muscles is an act of mediation. And ultimately I think of love. Watching my body shift and change made me see my body like I'd never seen it before. It made me see my body the way a lover sees my body. I knew every line, every definition, every indentation. I knew my body's limits and just when I could push further without everything falling apart. It was an experience that I think began to fuel my path to radical self acceptance. The fat body I have now is the same body I carefully crafted so many years ago. Unfortunately, I lost sight of this fact as I struggled with years of depression.
Trapeze made me fall in love with my body again. It hasn't been easy because of that pesky patience thing. I want to be good right away. I want to be strong immediately. But it doesn't work like that for me. Somedays I work so damn hard and do nothing right. I miss every move. And then I go home and spend a week thinking through all the moves, pinpointing when I went wrong. I have to push through a lot of things during that week: self loathing (see last week's post), frustration, physical pain and of course impatience. I go back and do many of the moves I missed, and totally fail on new moves. The cycle repeats itself.
As the days push through, I am watching those lines in my body become more defined. I am getting stronger. I feel it. I see it.
Tonight was not my personal best. I only did one move even marginally correct. I also felt weak tonight. Tired. I knew coming in that it was going to be hard for me. But I tried, and I tried hard. I could have left discouraged but I didn't because I made some shifts in how I think.
First, I ended on a high note. I've made it a point to not wear myself out on all the things I can't do. I leave enough energy to go through the moves I'm good at. Tonight I practiced all my standing moves which I think are my personal best.
Second, I remind myself that I do trapeze for love. I'm not doing it to compete or to be the best. I have all the time in the world to get intimate with this thing I love. I think it's like when you meet someone who makes your stomach turn inside out. Part of you wants to rush through all the feelings. But another part of you savors every touch, every word, every kiss. And then you wake up sixteen years later and realize you're still learning the curves of your lover's body.
Third, no self loathing talk allowed. After the picture crisis, I faced a bit moment. Did I let my self loathing define my entire experience? Or was I going to look at those pictures and see myself as my daughter saw me? As my friends saw me? They saw me as strong and beautiful in it's strength. I put the pictures up and over a few hours started to see them as others saw them. I realized if I was going to keep at this thing, I had to learn to love the body doing trapeze now as much as I loved the that would come. Thus when moves prove too hard due to my weight instead of berating myself for being fat, I think "You will get stronger, you will get there." I don't bemoan my lack of skill and instead remind myself of what I can do.
Fourth, there is no end product. I think what intrigues me about trapeze is that there are always new possibilities. I can't imagine being bored with this movement. Ever. And the thing is that there is no end to what I can train my body to do as well. I think that one thing that sunk me when I was so fit years ago was the idea of an end. That was partly a weight loss mentality at work. When you're focused on losing weight, there is always this end goal. When you hit it there is a sense of disappointment. It's not nearly what you imagined in your head aka the heaven's don't open and shine light upon you. It's also a kind of dead end feeling. What's next? Nothing. But with focusing on fitness, there is no end product. My body needs to be worked, loved and shaped throughout the years not just as an end goal that translates as a number on the scale. There are still planes to my flesh that I have yet to learn. My body moves already in ways that surprise me and I suspect I have a lot more to learn. In other words, the end goal is the process. It's an act of patience to sculpt the human body. Each trapeze class doesn't bring me closer to the end, it just introduces me to new roads to explore.