Thursday 19 September 2019

I ditched the preconceptions, realised I'm no Blondin, and cut myself some slack

Gemma Fullam: the point of power is always in the present moment.
Gemma Fullam: the point of power is always in the present moment.

Gemma Fullam

It's never a good idea to have preconceptions, is it? Five weeks ago, slacklining seemed like a fun challenge to take on. Despite abysmal past form where skills requiring a degree of coordination are concerned, I must confess that I secretly harboured hope. Hope that I had a hitherto hidden talent for aerial acrobatics, and an unfounded optimism that, if I applied myself with diligence, I had a chance of attaining a respectable level of proficiency on a line suspended in space. Perhaps I could run away and join the circus after all.

Gaining a new skillset was the sum total of my expectations (although, some years ago, having given myself a shiner by kneeing myself in the face while bouncing in a bouncy castle, the possibility of breaking a bone was never far from my mind).

The thing is, it turns out I'm not much of a slackliner. I won't be joining the roll-call of famous funambulists. In time, if I keep it up - and I intend to, because it's terrific fun - I might develop a degree of competency, but I'll never reach the heights of a Charles Blondin or an Elvira Madigan.

But that's okay. Because it turns out my preconceptions were all wrong.

Challenges, on the surface, are all about success and failure. This one turned out to be more than that. Because, through the small moments of striving, I came face to face with myself. The slackline challenged me to be present in my physical body, and to face down my ego, my monkey mind, that carping, kvetching internal monologue which never misses an opportunity to highlight my shortcomings.

Just as YouTuber guy - remember him? - promised, slacklining has indeed proven to be meditation in motion; an inspiration line rather than a line of duty. It has revealed itself to be a direct line to mindfulness, to honesty, and to seeing beyond the excuses and the I'm-no-goods and the frustrations, to the truth of being me, just me, in the moment.

This challenge turned out not to be about winning or losing or failing or not achieving; instead, it has been about being and doing, and the joy to be found in those things, and realising that the point of power is always in the present moment.

And that, to quote a phrase, has made all the difference.

TIP: The last word goes to Henry David Thoreau. It's a fine maxim for life: "Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity."

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