Thursday, June 07, 2007

Inline skating - trying to flow and not fall over

As an added incentive to my desire to learn how to roller-blade, (inline skate, whatever) I'm looking at it in the context of Flow.

I heard that blading tutors gave free stopping lessons in Central Park, so after making a plan to go up there one hot Saturday, telling people at lunch that I was going, getting on the subway...walking over there....I was definitely hoping that it would rain. Really suddenly and really hard.

I did end up rumbling down a very slight hill with my instructor, Michael, guiding me...and me being VERY aware of actually listening to his instructions rather than drifting off. The below photo is not me, but I pretty much looked like this...(photo by Kim Moran)

Being in flow requires absolutely no emotion, and total concentration. So, I'm concentrating pretty hard and have graduated from the learner's area to a hill that leads down to the Park proper, and I'm supposed to be using my brake on and off, like in car...but I sort of veer off and start speeding up and can't brake or I'll fall over and start yelling obscenities in Michael's direction (not at him; wasn't so silly as to insult my potential savior...) and break out into a flash-flood all-body-sweat ....before he eventually does save me. Being petrified surely counts as an emotion? In which case this whole 'experiment' is likely to be irrelevant as well as traumatic.

Michael told me not to panic. THEN he said - how about doing a loop of the park? Nutter! - There's a hill right there, and another further on!

After much persuasion (and me debating my own dedication to this flow rubbish) off we go.... The loop was a short one - about 25 minutes - but with plenty of sloping hills. Plenty to scare the crap out of me, leave me crimson-faced and dripping and shaking, legs going even more spastic than usual.

A couple of times Michael saved me but all along he chatted to me and asked if I was glad I agreed to this. And after I again went too fast and couldn't brake but 'hunkered down' (with Michael yelling 'hunker DOWN! hunker DOWN!') and not crashing into those people or that stroller and not falling over..... I was glad I was at least trying.

The other pay-off was me doing something that I had said to myself (and others) that I would do. I knew that at the sniff of any little excuse I would have high-tailed it home and 'made up' for it by cleaning my room or doing the dishes.

Going round Central Park was a grade beyond my presumed capabilities, something I had thought impossible to do NOW. The pay-off was correspondingly large. Whether or not I was in Flow some or all of the time is debatable; I was certainly too busy trying to stay upright to notice anyone else. And, now, a week later, I'm actually looking forward to trying again. Well, maybe THAT is extrapolating, but I'm not dreading it.

Michael wouldn't take the money I tried to push on him, but offered to come blading with me again. So I guess there's some positive pay off in teaching something new to a sh*t-scared, potty-mouthed, sweaty and spastic-legged foreigner ...

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