Week 6: The Upside Down World

Much of training aerial is just doing something uncomfortable. Over, and over, and over again. It is like any other physical routine except it is highly specialised. We are taught how to be flexible. How to climb, stretch, and endure all at once. How to exert oneself, but how to do so gracefully.

In the six weeks that I have been training, I’ve come to love it because it is an ideal metaphor. The first step to getting anywhere off the ground with the silks is just grasping them between two hands. This is that moment of excitement, fear, and doubt that we feel before we start a painting or begin writing another chapter in a book.

The most addicting sensation is the one right before doing something I am almost certain I can do while there still is that grain of insecurity left to stamp out.

Then there is that decision.

I am simply going to do it.

That is a straddle inversion. It’s utterly rudimentary but I and many other beginning students struggle to do it in the air, not because we lack the physical strength, but the psychological one. I know this because I have seen students enjoy. that motion just fine so long as they start with their feet on the ground.

I have watched a handful of students who’ve been training for months and months, and still, they struggle with this. They can do things that amaze me. Far more complex motions that I can’t. Yet this simple manoeuvre, because it feels so awkward, unsafe, counter-intuitive, seems to be the bane of so many beginners.

Once we’ve taken the plunge and put ourselves in that place of discomfort, it isn’t so daunting anymore. Not so otherworldly. What we previously thought to be fearsome is no longer. What we considered difficult, perhaps, not so much anymore.

I don’t know why I decided to practice my straddle from a climb. Or even where the urge came from. All I know is I was enjoying myself much more knowing that being upside down and high off the ground didn’t scare me any longer.

Sometimes I think that’s all it would take for so many of us to be much happier. Perhaps unhappiness plagues us not because we’re truly unsuccessful, or unfulfilled, rather … we’re uncertain of ourselves. There are so many things we want to do with our lives. Both big and small, our aspirations collect and hang over us.

But when was the last time we took that first step, grabbed onto the ropes, and really tried for one of them?

What if all we need is that consistent affirmation? That exercise of will amidst difficulty. Just outside of that sphere of our previous capabilities, we step beyond into that ever-so-slightly expanded territory. Here, we can be certain.

Here, in the Upside Down World, we don’t mind the discomfort.