Tiny Bit of Crazy

A chronical of the laughter, revelations and transformations that are possible when you embrace the crazy

I’m Baaa-aaak! November 11, 2010

I am definitely not the most uncoordinated person I know.

I mean, there are definitely people way more klutzy than me.

Unless I’m at the gym.

The worst episodes have so far taken place in my office gym. At my regular gym, when I’m with my trainer, it’s not generally too bad – maybe because he’s there to catch me and prop me and show me how to do stuff.

I mean, sure there was that day when for reasons unknown to me or god, I decided to step up onto a moving treadmill. But I caught myself with a surprisingly agile hop and skip and remained upright. And no one saw me except my trainer, and even though he laughed loud and long enough that everyone in the treadmill and bike area looked over, by then I looked like a normal person walking on the treadmill, so that doesn’t really count. 

I’ve been out of the gym for about three months due to an injury (not gym or klutz related), and today was my third session back, and my first one that attempted anything more complicated than the treadmill or weight machines.

First we did lunges up and down the space between the weight machines. Lunges take a certain kind of balance. I am out of practice. There were at least two times where I lost my balance and I was stuck in the lunge position wobbling side to side, arms out, looking like someone trying to balance in a canoe.

Next up was balance squats on an overturned bosu ball (so the squishy part is down) (that’s a technical term). Normally my trainer helps me get onto the ball, but this morning I had a substitute trainer and she was off doing something while I was supposed to be climbing up on this stupid thing. I initially forgot that, well, I’m me, and tried to just climb on.

I put my right foot on the right side and it tipped all the way to the right, and then I tried to lift my left foot to put on the left side assuming it would then stabilize in the middle. Except my right foot was at such a steep angle that as soon as I lifted my left foot my whole body tipped to the right and I was flailing around trying to avoid going face down on the carpet. 

For my second try, I did exactly the same thing again, with exactly the same result.

For my third try I did exactly the same thing, EXCEPT I started with my left foot….And got exactly the same result except the flailing occurred to the left.

Fourth try, I put my right foot in the center of the bosu ball, with the result of flailing forward. 

Into the guy on the big ab machine.

He was on his side, the upper half of his body hanging out into the aisle, minding his business, and suddenly, there I am. Sharing the pad.

I was just like “You had to have realized this was a possibility during tries 1-3.”

Fifth try I made it! Just as the trainer was walking over to help me. Although I have absolutely no idea how I did it and am sure that if I tried again right now, I would repeat tries 1-4 exactly.  

Later, I was sent to get a floor mat, and as I pulled it out from behind the big stretching structure thingy, I slid it backward and it hit a foam roller, which fell forward and narrowly missed whacking this really old guy sitting on a ball, and instead knocked down his water bottle. I said “Oh, I’m sorry!” and picked up the foam roller, expecting to hear him offer the socially obligatory “no problem”. And when I turned toward him to receive his forgiveness, he made  a snarly face and rolled his eyes.

I decided that he was probably just having a stroke.

Finally the work out was over, no one was bleeding, or suing (I assume), and I come out of the locker room with my big gym bag over my shoulder and decide to fill up my water bottle for the drive home.

The water fountain is in a corner between a wall and another ab machine. I walked around the ab machine toward the water fountain and promptly wacked the guy laying down on the machine with my bag.

I pretended I didn’t notice.

I couldn’t watch two people have a stroke on the same day.

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Leap of Faith August 21, 2010

Filed under: Home — Meredith @ 11:31 am
Tags: , , , , ,

Last Saturday I did a ropes course. Actually, technically it was a “Tree Top Obstacle Course”. Yes, you read that right. No it’s not a metaphor.  

It was at a place called Go Ape, and it. Was. Awesome. I climbed rope ladders up trees onto platforms, and then left those platforms via zip line, rope bridge, moving platform bridge, or Tarzan swing. Yep. Me.  

Overall, it was exactly what I expected, by which I mean I had no idea what to expect, except that I would be pushed outside my comfort zone. Which I was, but in more ways than I expected.  

I expected my fear of heights to be the biggest problem. Followed by my general risk averse nature. Followed by generally being a wuss. I didn’t expect crazy to be the biggest problem. Although…duh, right?  

So I started out full up on confidence and excitement, having rocked the baby obstacles on the training course.  Then I got onto the first “grown up” platform and I had a fleeting  moment of “whatthefuckamidoing?”  Followed quickly by “OMG this is happening. Whosecrazyideawasthis? ” Then I remembered it was, in fact, my idea, and so I shook it off.  I put my pully-thing-ma-jig (sorry for the all the technical terms) on the wire, and I hooked my red safety whatchacallit to the line and then my blue safety whozawhatsit to the thing-ma-jig, and I took my first step out onto this thin wire strung between two trees. The safety thing mabobs were attached to a harness that was around my waist and legs (totally sexy look) and then hooked to the wire above me. Aside from the harness contraption making it impossible for me to fall more than 6 inches, I also had two wires to hang onto as I made my way across. A pretty easy way to start. And yet my pulse was a little faster than normal, my muscles a little tense, my attention very focused as I inched my way across. My rational brain knew there was no real danger, but my other brain, the crazy (generally dominant) brain was running this loop:”WHAT are you doing? You don’t do things like this. You are not this person.” But then I got to the other side, and I had a surge of adrenalized self-congratulation and realized that maybe I WAS this person – or was at least becoming this person…  

Each obstacle was a new challenge. My rational brain continued to recognize the lack of any real danger, and my crazy brain continued to be scared. But after about an hour, I started to relax into the experience. I started to really believe I was safe, and to appreciate my physical ability to make it through the challenges (I thanked my trainer for his guidance more times on this course than in the last year combined.) And as I relaxed,  I realized that the source of my remaining anxiety was born from not knowing what was coming next.   The way the course is designed it was hard to really know what was around each corner, and that’s not usually how I roll.  I like information and the illusion it provides me that I can control the future.   

And the less predictive the scenario, the harder I work. I’ve invested countless hours over my lifetime in test driving routes for school, work, dates; watching traffic webcams; pestering my mom to tell me, definitively, how a family drama will end, or harassing  a stressed out man as he defends our country to tell me what it will be like when he gets home. And here’s what I’ve known for a while, but am finally willing to acknowledge:  it doesn’t do any good. Traffic webcams are all well and good, but a million things can happen between shutting down the laptop and getting onto 66 that makes my information obsolete.  

For dramatic effect, I’d really like to say that standing on a platform at Go Ape, that I had this blinding flash of awareness and was infused with a commitment to stop being a control freak.  But it was more of a  subtle realization that physically and emotionally I was burning a lot of energy worrying about what was coming next, and so was missing the experience of right now. And the experience I was having right now, was the one I wanted to have, the one I’d worked to have. And the next thing was coming, like it or not, but if I let up on the effort to control it, right now became not only much more fun, but also way easier.  

So  it was with this new found commitment to the present that I climbed another rope ladder onto yet another platform, and then realized that I was at the second, and much bigger, Tarzan Swing. This is the only obstacle in which you don’t hook your pully-thing-ma-jig onto anything. You only hook your safety whatsits onto what is essentially a rope, and then you jump off the platform, hooked only at the waist, and then swing through the air into a giant rope cargo net like thing at a speed that sends you bouncing off, back into the open space to coast more slowly into the net.  

Easy, right?  

Yeah….  

So I climb up onto this platform all full up with my newfound “focus on the moment” philosophy, and so I was completely mentally unprepared for this activity. Now, I’d done a smaller Tarzan swing earlier, without even thinking about it, because that was the old me, the one whose attention was always focused forward so she was barely aware of what was happening now. Yeah, THAT  girl was too busy worrying about catching the net on the first swing to be scared of the jumping-off-a-perfectly-good-platform thing. But now, the “live in the moment girl” was standing on this very, very high platform, sweaty and tired and carrying a new and unbroken in approach to life.  And that girl had been so focused on the intimate experience of climbing the fucking rope ladder, noticing the way her shoulder muscles and biceps worked so efficiently to pull her up, the way the breeze felt on her skin, that she hadn’t seen any of her friends do the swing. And so had no information, no frame of reference, outside the stupid stick drawing direction and the omnipresent sign of a person falling backward off the platform (meant to be a reminder about safety, felt more like a threat).  

So as I’m standing there, trying to grab the rope, and I feel a small drop of unadulterated panic begin to percolate deep in my belly.  My hands are shaking as I clip myself to the rope and I tell myself its exhaustion, excitement, ebbing adrenaline. One friend is next to me on the platform, another friend on the other side of the obstacle, both offering me words of encouragement. But I am so busy noticing exactly how far away the ground is, how green the leaves are, how firm the platform is, I don’t really hear them. All I know is that I’m supposed to jump off this platform, and every cell in my body thinks that’s a really stupid idea.   

Yeah, I’m VERY aware of this fucking moment. The percolating panic grows into a boil and a voice in my head that’s saying “Jump? That’s just insane! Who does that?” keeps getting louder. And I can’t think of one single reason that a person would jump off this platform. And clearly this is full on crazy, because the only reason to be on this platform is to jump off of it. And I realize that the crazy was about to take control, and that is actually scarier than the idea of jumping. I try to reignite rational by double checking all my hooks and my harness and explaining to myself, out loud, what I was supposed to do: “Just relax, jump and swing.” I reminded myself of how easy and fun the zip lines were. Except, with the zip lines, you sit basically sit in the harness and pick up your legs and off you go. But for this swing you can sit, you have to actually jump out into open space, and that’s what my reptile brain refuses to endorse.  

I’m vaguely aware of my friends’ words of support, but I’m mostly aware of how irrational, and yet very real, my tidal wave of panic is. And I think “oh my god. This is what its like to choke, this is how people freeze up. Oh my god – what if I’m NEVER able to leave this platform ever?” And I remember once having this same thing happen on stage, and for a moment I get caught up in simply observing the experience of letting fear and panic take control. I’m both fascinated and horrified.  

And then I come back to this moment and realize that if crazy wins, then my whole adventure, my whole experiment in pushing my limits, in moving into this new person will be a failure. And I know I have to stop looking for agreement from my body and Rational must take over and I just have to jump.  But Crazy overhears the plan and starts to argue against it… but the next second I am in the air.  

I’m screaming, and laughing and bouncing off the cargo net. I’m overcome with that laugh – you know that wonderful, unintentional, uncontrollable laugh that you only get to experience at times like this:  the kind where you only realize you’re laughing when you hear yourself, and its a laugh and a whoop and a scream sort of all rolled into one. If you don’t that laugh…well, you need to.    

So then I’m back at the cargo net and I grab on and climb up and over and onto the platform. And I’m shaking as I unhook from the rope and re-hook to the platform. I’m shaking from the adrenaline, and the laughing, (and a little from the exertion of my upper body muscles in climbing to the platform, because even after all this time with my trainer, I still always forget to engage my core.) And as I catch my breath I think back to that moment on the platform – about how irrational, and yet real, the fear was, how the more I rationalized, the stronger the fear grew in response, until the only thing I could do was essentially trick myself into jumping without thinking about it. And thank god I did because what followed was incredible.  But, then where does that leave me in terms of a life philosophy? Am I “look ahead and be prepared but miss the moment” girl? Or am I “live in the moment but risk paralyzing fear when crazy fills in where information used to go” girl?  

The answer, right now at least, is somewhere in the middle. I’m getting better at letting go of the delusion that I can control the future so that I can enjoy the present more often. But, at the same time, I’m never going to be able to just blindly stumble into each experience with blinders on. I think on some level I hoped this experience would yield a definitive revelation – like it always does in the movies -because I’m in a transformational period in my life and part of me really wants to know how it ends. But part of me, a bigger part actually, is also really enjoying not knowing, enjoying the feeling of just swinging through open space, trusting that I’ll land safely where I’m supposed to…   

But right now, I’m trying to figure out when I can do that course again, because now that I know what its like, I think it’ll be way more fun the second time.  

All ready to go...

 

The cargo net from the big Tarzan SwingAll done. All done.

 

All done.

 

 
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