For the past eleven years, the bulk of any strenuous physical activity I've undertaken has occurred at the barre in ballet class. (I may have mentioned.)
The string of logic that has taken me from there to here where I'm sitting right now might be better categorized as a thread, but it does exist. The long and short of that thread breaks down to wanting to try something completely different.
So, I found myself lacing up a pair of skates at the local roller rink on Thursday, wearing enough borrowed padded gear that I felt like the Un-Incredible Hulk, wobbling out to my first hockey lesson.
It was awesome. I mean, I totally suck. But I had a blast, I survived, and my very patient instructor pronounced me not totally hopeless, which I think is encouraging. I walked out of there with the feeling you get when you walk off a good roller coaster.
It's different, that's for sure. I found myself recalling a memory from childhood--I must have been about 7 or 8, I'd guess--standing in the alley behind our house with a baseball mitt on one hand and my feet turned out to first position like a good little ballerina while Dad's yelling for me to loosen up and stop standing like a girl. My first hockey lesson went a little like that.
The thing is, I've always thought that I was Not Good At Sports. I like playing sports, but as a kid I was remarkably bad at them. My folks can give you a minute run down of my first home run in girls junior softball, but I can assure you that was a glowing moment in an otherwise unstellar endeavor. I was in right field watching the dandelions grow, so to speak, when I wasn't warming a spot on the bench.
But I'm not a kid anymore. And I've been dancing for eleven years. Ballet is, generally speaking, not a contact sport, but it's taught me a few things. I have decent balance and stamina. I take physical instruction well, I'm not afraid of the floor and I know how to pick myself back up and keep going. That's not nothing.
In Hawaii this summer, my father-in-law taught me to paddle-board, and to my surprise, here was a physical thing that I was not terrible at right out of gate. That's not to say I didn't land my ass in the water a few times, but hey, if you never fall that just means you're never trying anything new.
It got me thinking. I wonder what other things I can't do that I actually can, and that when I tell myself that I can dance but I can't play baseball (or, say, hockey), whether or not that's actually true.
One of my ballet teachers, when she sets us a balance in class, is fond of saying, "Live your life; let go of the barre." I don't think this is exactly what she meant, but I'm going with it. And hey, I'm not hanging up my ballet slippers for good. I'll still be warming up in black and pink with the other middle-aged ballerinas from time to time. And I don't really even know if I'm going to dig hockey.
I just felt like it was time for a little change.
It did occur to me while lacing up my skates that this might qualify as some form of mid-life crisis reaction. I don't feel particularly crisis-esque, but once the idea occurred, I did lay it out there for further scrutiny from my central processing unit. One must admit that I'm now in the right age bracket. The thing is, I don't see this as wanting to relive my youth. Youth sucks. It's confusing. It hurts. You never know where you're standing. It's remarkable that so many of us survive it, really. Thus far, my thirties have proven, hands down, the best decade of my life. I'm at home in my own skin. Now I want to see what else I can do.
Maybe that's how the stereotypical mid-life crisis guy who buys a shiny red sports car feels though.
If so, I don't think its such a bad thing.