If you’ve seen the Stephen Sondheim musical Into the Woods, you will know that it’s not always easy to find your way through the confusing paths of life, even in a fairy tale. We hope for heroes and villains, happy endings, and clear moral consequences–but in reality, those neat fictions quickly vanish.
That’s why I find this song so poignant:
The past couple of skating weeks have been a thicket of confusion, with some really good breakthroughs and some very weird and random falls.
To begin with, I took a few days off skating to chaperone a high school field trip to Chicago, which was pretty fun. We went to the Field Museum, where I got to contemplate the hip structure of dinosaurs (legs more upright) and reptiles (legs sprawling sideways). I’ll just share the slides and spare you the reflection on how this makes me think about skating.
But when I got back on the ice, I kept falling down for different reasons: catching the back of my blade (since I once again forgot to point my toe), pushing off just a little too vigorously, and forgetting what I was doing in the middle of a mohawk.
So when the song goes “people make mistakes,” I can really relate. Ouch!
Happily, though, I think some of the soreness is actually due to progress, not just impact. Some of the falls were because I’m actually trying something new and going past my comfort zone (I don’t count the momentary glitch on the mohawk.) I have been really focused on using my core in skating, which means that my hip muscles are actually working harder. Here’s my list of action items:
- Pushing onto a really good edge, making sure I’m in a good hip position (neutral), with core engaged and without using too much hip flexor.
- Making sure my edges remain active throughout their duration (I will write a separate post on using pressure rather than just momentum), which means that I need to be aware of my feet.
- On my backwards edges, pushing with the knees and not just the feet.
- Loops (I do love doing these). One of these days I’m going to work up a light entertainment program in which I am a barber shop pole.
So is my skating “good” or “bad” for the world? For me? For my dinosaur-like hips? I’m not sure. Luckily the “good” and “bad” of my skating are (1) not loaded with moral consequences and (2) not a zero-sum game. So I can always enjoy the fact that I am getting better without worrying that someone else is suffering.
The moral: Jo skates, and everybody wins!
That’s why skating is so good for keeping disenchantment at bay. At the rink, no one is alone–or if they are, they feel lucky to have private ice.
And sometimes magic happens. That’s why we like seeing our friends win gold medals at Adult Nationals!