For years, I’ve explained how I learned to roller skate by watching a clip on Sesame Street. It took months of falling, and reliving all the frustrations of the “bike riding saga,” and then one day I watched some kid gliding along to a jazzy soundtrack and it Just. Made. Sense.
My brother, as a child, was always more adept than I was at seamlessly fitting into physical challenges. Basketball, running, biking, he could always just play. I, on the other hand, thought about it too hard. I wanted to know all the information first and then sort it out.
Which is the road to getting picked last in gym.
We have mixed our personalities as adults, my brother and I, both of us picking up anything we can, and both of us now stubbornly determined we can do it even if it doesn’t quite make sense yet. (See: slacklining.)
They say excellence is a habit, or what you do you get good at, and I believe this is true for most things.
Handstands, for one.
Writing, also, even though once I spent a month in France, (twice and a half, actually, but once in a really emo state,) thinking I would write every day and it would turn out something lovely. It did not.*
For a while, on Wednesdays, I would work on a few different poses or transitions that have been a particular bane of my practice. Wednesdays because I was warmed up from all my classes and I had the space, and those challenges because I am an Aries in both Sun and Moon signs, so TELL ME I WON’T.
But I’ve had different and far less sweaty weeks for a couple months.
I’ve also been showing up extremely early to things, which is sort of false advertising for when I cannot, inevitably, keep this up, but this is how I showed up to the studio 45 minutes before my class today, and had time to play.
And I nailed one-legged crow** without thinking about it.
This is the beauty of Instagram. Not as a comparative and physique-obsessed playground, but it consistently is for me now what that roller skating clip on PBS was when nothing else clicked.
You are what you repeatedly do, but sometimes you have to set the whole thing down for a while. Give yourself a chance to redefine your own limits. Become a person who picks things up because you are determined and you are sick of writing whiny stories and food diaries.
For years I’ve talked about this phenomenon of letting things happen in their own time, about this Sesame Street clip, so today I ventured into the gaping hole of the Internet to find it. The only film closely resembling what I remember is THIS, which is actually nothing of what I remembered. I thought it was a teenager in jeans skating down a street, not David in his harem pants disco-ing through Central Park.
I also broke my wrist roller skating on my own street a couple years later, so, it’s not magic. Keep practicing too.
*Actual entries in my travel journal include “This is crap, everything I’ve written here is crap.” Which, in hindsight, it was, so at least I have accurate taste.
**Nemesis number one.