My 3 Week Chip
When I quit smoking, such a long time ago now it seems (five years this October coming!!), three weeks was the second marker I had to latch on to.
3 days – 3 weeks – 3 months
3 weeks done now at The School and we begin to understand the formula and we begin to see that we are playing a bit of a longer game here, we begin to see that we are really just warming up to start in earnest, the real work . Already I feel, I begin to notice, the differences in our bodies and in our minds. We are tired, often exhausted and physically aching all over.
I smile a lot.
I’ve been thinking about this post for a few days, thinking about using it as a bit of a marker to list the things I’m noticing – faster to catch and adjust my posture, huge growth in my Suzuki training, finding Breath and Breadth in my personal work and my collaborative communication, the difference already in our collective commitment, a huge leap in our creative creations – and I found myself thinking that maybe this is a much bigger marker.
Maybe this is a marker that hits a much deeper vein in my life.
Maybe it goes like this:
When I was ten years old I joined the circus…
Ok, my family took a trip to a Club Med in the Dominican Republic. This is not the way my family normally travels but it had been a rough year. I got sick right at Christmas – I remember my godfather asking me to play the piano. I didn’t like to perform (!) so I used my easy out, I don’t feeeeel wellllll…
My mother, ever sensitive to my needs and ailing nature immediately pulled out the thermometer to call my bluff. Imagine when, to both of our surprise, the thermometer bursts like a freshly tapped oil well due to my soaring temperature (well, ok, if my life was a cartoon) and I am immediately whisked off to bed before dinner and dessert.
Picture me, in bed, foiled by my own body and raging because now I’m missing out on all the good times I can hear floating up to my quarantined sick bed. I’ll play the goddamn piano if you want… too late.
Flash forward six months and I have missed most of the second half of grade five. I have been too tired walking from my bedroom to the living room let alone the half a block to get to school for most of that time. Countless blood work to say, inconclusively, that I have some sort of post-viral thingamajiggy… a mononucleosis that isn’t mononucleosis.
I think it was a hard year for all of us. It was time for a break and not the kind that we normally took where we had to do everything. No, this was a trip for some real rest and relaxation. The parental unit promptly and firmly ensconced themselves on the beach shading themselves from the sun with a healthy supply of books and magazines and fading memories of the Three Horrors abandoned to the care of the over tanned and under clothed staff of the Punta Cana Club Med children’s program: The Punta Cana Circus.
Come One Come All Every Wednesday… or did you forget you had children
The littlest horror, a four maybe five year old butterball, discovered the flying trapeze and to the delight and horror of everyone but my mother who just waved away any concern and said, Yes Yes she’ll be fine I’ll be on the beach, could barely wait to be strapped into the harness before fearlessly bounding off into space
The middle horror was sent off to be a bicycle clown and I was dropped in to the trampoline group. For two weeks I practiced the trick the instructor had chosen me to perform for the big finale of our number. A series of little jumps and flips building towards a back flip from the trampoline that was to land with both feet firmly planted on the instructor’s shoulders
I was so close, so many times but not once did I really nail it. I remember wanting it so badly, I remember getting my first real knee injury…
There are no pictures of the butterball on the trapeze, at least I don’t think there are. There’s a picture of a very swollen faced clown, turns out the middle horror has an allergy to penicillin and then there’s this picture:
That’s me. The only time I ever landed that back flip on to the shoulders of whoever that guy was. Look at his face. Look at my face. Look at the faces of all the kids standing around the trampoline. Everything about this picture is a lesson for me. A lesson in belief, in commitment, in collective experiential moments, a lesson in infinite possibility and the discovery that it is all contained within…
I’m bouncing down our trampoline ‘sidewalk’ this week, someone shouts out, You fly girl, and I fly in the air rotating all the way around and landing on the mat my feet underneath my body rather than in a tangled heap or laid out after a nasty face plant.
Pretty sure my surprise at this flagrant disregard for gravity and my bodily logic was clear from the squeals of glee bursting from the idiot grin on my face.
Between that little girl and me are over two decades of emotional struggle, a genetically unavoidable personal reality. Within a year of this photo I’ll start to reveal the characteristics, the qualities of me, that will lead to a diagnosis of bi-polar at the age of fourteen or fifteen. I will start stealing and lying, drinking and smoking, screaming and crying, and I will learn to modify my behaviour, to hide my quirks and fear the opinion and disdain of others, to subvert my own instincts and to put far too much weight on to the validation of me by others.
Look, I’m skipping over plenty of things that contradict this last paragraph. I have always been lucky with my larger lot in life – there would have been far less chance of me finding my way round to where I am now if I hadn’t been so well supported and loved.
Why am I writing this now. It’s not what I set out to say, that’s for sure, but we learn to follow threads here at The School. No judgement.
Maybe the point is this: that I came here to find myself as an artist and that means to get to know Me, the good the bad the ugly. To put myself in a situation where, just two days in, my teacher can grin and whisper to me before giving me feedback in front of the group, I Got Your Number, and I can laugh even as I bury my head in my hands in mock embarrassment knowing she is right. That I can begin to realise I have worked hard enough that I am starting to find moments of calm inside the storms of training, of performance, of life. That I have the means to re-access all the parts of me I shuttered away because I mistakenly thought them inappropriate or perhaps had not yet developed the appropriate tools to manage
That, twenty-something years after a picture was taken of me in a once in a lifetime moment right at the beginning of those life-changing games called Puberty and Adolescence, I come back full circle to a bouncing mat and a new chance to make the life and therefore the work that I have spent those twenty-something years struggling to reroute to what I mistakenly thought was the Correct Way.
Good grief, if this keeps up I’m going to be insufferably solving the world’s problems in a month or two…
We’re only three weeks in and the hard work hasn’t even really started yet…
I’ll try to get a video of the flip for you, I’ve been told I showed excellent form.