One of the best things about skating for me is that for a little while, a few days a week, I get to listen to my body.
Not look at my body. I do enough of that too, checking myself out for imbalances, imperfections, things that need improvement. That’s what everyone else seems to do at times, judging, measuring, interpreting: imposing meaning on our surfaces and contours, the shapes we make, and the actions we do.
I see this at work and at home. There is such an emphasis on visible acts, on progress, on achievement and merit. Skating is a break from that, but it also builds more pressure to assess. It is, after all, a sport, and the goal (for me, as for many of us) is to look better.
Luckily, though, skating is not really all about appearances, although the pictures would have us think so. It’s about moving through space and time, with the most important thing being the different sensations of speed, shape, pressure, and that ever-changing balance.
Once I forget what skating feels like and start thinking only about how I look, I lose an important aspect of my stability, both physical and mental. My body feels like a puppet controlled by my mind (and this can be really bad, considering that my mind doesn’t always know what it’s doing).
I am extremely fortunate to have two incredible coaches, both of whom have worked with me for a number of years, to help me sort this out. Part of the great fun of working with both Laurie and Ari is their insight into how to get something to feel right, and to get past some of the interpretive baggage. Sometime when I’m taking a lesson, I feel like they are horse-whisperers and I’m the horse, just getting a few signals to make me run the right way. And it’s so much fun sometimes to be just a body (okay, a body with skates on, and with clothes).
So when I get done just being a body, I think: What a privilege to have this in my life.
And then I think: Next time I gotta remember not to push through my turns.