In addition to taking trapeze class, for the past year I've been learning another type of aerial dance, fabrics. Fabrics requires more strength and skill, and I find it exceedingly difficult. I've come close to tears, been full of frustration, and contemplated quitting countless times. I stay with it only because it is exceedingly beautiful, it pushes me physically to totally new levels, and because I love my teachers and classmates. But each week I have to give myself a pep talk before I can open the door of the studio.
With the start of the new class session, two thirds of the students in our class advanced to the next level. The rest of us stayed behind. It felt like being held back a grade and returning to "remedial" beginner class. I know I was slow and timid learning the new tricks and many of the other students were much stronger. Fabrics class is more difficult than anything physically I've done-- I also take trapeze class, and quickly master new tricks and feel strong in that class. But fabrics is a different story-- sometimes my body just refuses to do the moves. I try over and over again, muscles quivering. I get so frustrated watching my classmates do the moves that I can't do. When I saw my old classmates who advanced to the intermediate class, it didn't make me feel too good about myself. Why should I continue if I wasn't a "natural" like all of them?
But during our beginner class, I started to have more fun. We reviewed old tricks, and I could focus on technique and challenging myself to try them higher up in the air, and I found I could do some things I'd never been able to do before. A few times I got caught up in the moment-- spinning, climbing high, twisting, flying. Sure I was in the "slow" class, but that didn't matter because I was finally dancing and it felt beautiful. I was finally achieving flow, because the level of difficulty of the class matched my ability.
I love fabrics because it teaches me life lessons. How I compare myself to others. How only when I believe in myself can I do certain moves. How when I hesitate, I fail. I see the importance of intense concentration and attention to form. I also appreciate feeling what it is like to be the slow one, because it makes me realize that I'm doing this for the process of learning and not for any goal. I savor doing something for the pure joyful experience.