Week 2: Shadows & Ideals

Reflection Before the Second Day of Conditioning

As illustrated in the previous post, I feel about as prepared for today’s class as a fledgeling might feel getting shoved out of a nest. I stayed true to the advice given by the instructor that I should be working out throughout the week to build up the requisite strength. I certainly did my best.

If I am to attain any skill or grace in the slightest, it’s become obvious to me that my body should be in peak performance.

This hasn’t come without a thrashing den of demons’ worth of pain. The next three days after the course, just walking was a chore. I felt like I’d crawled out of a shallow grave. It didn’t help that one of those days was my 21st birthday, resulting in a hangover of diabolical, kill-me-now magnitudes. That was not helping my body get adjusted.

Debauchery aside, I was able to squeeze in some workouts throughout the week to build up my core and upper body strength. One result of which being this comical, only slightly pathetic video of me doing my first set of not-laughably-terrible pull ups at a vacant playground. (I’m not going to work out in a basement somewhere when the weather is just getting nice.)

With all that said, it’ll be fascinating to see how I handle tonight’s conditioning. It’s only been a week, but I wonder if the difference will be noticeable? I’m cautious to harbour expectations one way or another.

Reflection after the Second Day of Training

I couldn’t help but be nervous making my commute to the studio. Despite meditating, listening to a podcast, and even music on the way there, I was sweating from my palms.

How ridiculous. It’s only a conditioning course, I told myself.

Often when we kindle a new passion or discover a love we didn’t know was hiding away in us, there is a natural, indomitable excitement regarding our interactions with it. I’ve known it with all of the odd hobbies I’ve done, and now the familiar flame has arrived once again.

I like to think that it means we are doing something right. An action which resonates with our souls. It is not only something we enjoy, but something we ought to be doing.

Arriving at the class today, I was more determined and sure of my actions than before. My movements were still awkward, but there was an attempt at fluidity. A confidence is understanding failure and mistakes are a requisite to mastery.

This patience is pivotal to learning new skills. A humble acknowledgement of our apprenticeship and acceptance of calamity in the process of engaging with our higher selves. Something happens when we do this. Something materialises. A shadow. A shadow of ourselves watching over the movements. They’re cast from the light of our future selves, and when they see us putting in the effort for evolution, they support our current attempts at embodiment.

One of the exercises we do are called ‘circus circuits’. Exercises done for one minute before being rotated.

I wrapped the silks around my wrists and hung from them, legs tucked to my chest, body trembling. Then I lifted my back onto a knot, extended my legs out, and let go. Silks guarding my thighs to keep me from falling, I stretched my arms out and let my body sway. The world turned upside down.

A brief 10 seconds of just hanging like an idiot. Somehow it felt so liberating.

Tonight endowed in me a refreshed determination. My first class was engaging so many muscle groups and parts of my body that had been dormant. I wondered how I would be able to progress at all. But tonight I don’t feel half as sore as last week, and with some sound advice from my instructor, I’ll be copying our workout tonight and repeating it daily until the fundamentals course starts in early May.

Last week I got to sit around for days, waiting for muscles to heal. This week I have the opportunity to prove to myself that I have enough discipline for the challenges ahead. Nothing is (terribly) sore, so I have an obligation to hit the groundwork every day if possible. As I am editing this post several days later, I’ve stayed true to that.

Every profession, art, and skill requires sacrifice for mastery. Pain, time, comfort. Carve out the offerings and toss them into the fire. See how high it blazes. We need far less than we think and are capable of far more.

Between limitations and ideals is a dance of fated suffering, marked with blood, endowed with insight.

To be more realistic, for now, I look like a damn fool swinging from his ass in silks worth triple as much as the human swaying from them.

But hey, it’s a start.