Fair Warning: This post is more personal than many of my solution-oriented articles. If you are more interested in specific tools for cultivating successful habits, the blog is full of them. I think it is only fair to share stories of challenge, too.
I have fallen over more times that I can possibly say. Literally, in my variety of movement disciplines, and figuratively, into wells of recrimination and despair – I am no stranger to feeling like shit.
One particular evening a few weeks ago I rushed out of ballet class early to see the dance company Batsheva. The performance was simultaneously inspiring and deepened the gulf between where I am and what is possible.
That performance was the capstone on a challenging couple of weeks. I had been trying and failing bring all of my attention to ballet, and learn as quickly as possible. Instead, I was floundering through four hours of ballet technique every evening in a self-referential cycle of feeling awkward, making a mistake, and then feeling worse. To compound matters, though my professional life and dance life are mostly not directly overlapping, some of that despondency did seep into my workdays.
I’m on the mend from a whirlwind of activity, action and misery, and I’m excited to report that there’s bright sunlight at the end of this tunnel. Every tunnel I’ve ever been in the midst of seems to eventually reveal sunshine.
In reflecting about my experience of that period of a few weeks that culminated in the Batsheva performance I notice that this fall into a descending cycle, like the last and all the others, wasn’t any easier. I’m quite as capable of making myself unhappy as I was as an angst-ridden teenager just beginning to date, or a hormone-heady early-twenties scared of my place in the world. If anything, these days my unhappiness is more nuanced and more complicated. I’m more aware, and feel like I have more to lose. It turns out that falling down doesn’t get any easier.
There is an upside to this story. From the middle of my ballet upset or in watching Batsheva and wondering how I could fall so far short of what is possible, my assent to joy seemed impossible. And yet through my writing practice and asking myself a few loving questions, I realize that no matter how inadequate I feel, I will keep on trying.
It is probably a combination of the passage of time and application of specific tools I have cultivated, but I am pleasantly surprised at my rapid return to normalcy. While the fall was no less arduous than any I’ve experienced, the return to comfortable action was. Through practice, we can get better at picking ourselves back up and trying again.