June 26, 2008

The Humility Bank

Ever feel like you've really got it going on? You just got your hair cut and damn you look good. You may be old enough to be someone's mother but you're comfortable in your skin and your kids like to hang out with you. Maybe you're not good at everything but you know darn well you are really good at some things. You've got this unschooling thing down. You're at ease. Life is good. Really good.

Aren't those the moments when life throws you a curve ball and you're suddenly wondering what exactly you thought you had going on in the first place? Or, worse, you find out you most definitely do not have anything going on except perhaps a few pounds. Maybe it's just me.

But yesterday, I got to thinking, what if you participated in an activity that would serve as a regular humility dispenser? Wouldn't that take care of the requisite attitude adjustment? You'd be in the driver's seat, though, so there wouldn't be any surprises. Like you wouldn't be in a yoga class thinking you were all cool and flexible, and when you had to go into a headstand, in the utterly silent room, you wouldn't fart. And then you wouldn't have to stay in the headstand for much, much longer than anyone else for fear it might happen again on the way down. And you wouldn't have to never ever go back to that yoga studio again as long as you lived even though it's only a few blocks from your house and you really liked going there. You know?

Anyway, I've found the perfect humility dispenser. It's called circus class. When Jerry and I joined the homeschool circus class before we left for New Zealand, it was a fairly even mix of younger kids, teens and a few adults. Most everyone had been taking the class for a while so Jerry and I were definitely behind, but it wasn't bad. Thankfully for me, most young kids aren't really all that coordinated anyway. And, even though I have the upper body strength of a fly, I do have coordination on my side. Sure, I felt a little silly sometimes, but I defy anyone to do a "crab walk" and not feel silly. Then things changed.

While Jerry and I were in New Zealand routines were learned. Teenagers started to outnumber the younger kids. All of a sudden it was a class full of strong and coordinated people who had no qualms about hanging upside down by their feet or doing a million chin-ups, or swinging through the air fifty feet off the ground on a swath of fabric while doing the splits.

Jerry wasn't having anything to do with it. He did one class and bailed. But I wanted to keep going. I wanted to improve. Yes, I wanted to fly through the air with the greatest of ease like--well, you know the guy. The daring one.

So, once a week. I submit to the humiliation of being the lone beginner in a class of, not experts, but, well...people that are way better than me. The way I figure it this should give me a surplus of humiliation in my humility bank, so when I'm need of an attitude adjustment I can pull from there. No need for surprises. I should be safe, right?

There is one problem with this plan. The physical pain. It's not pleasant. Today, for example, I can hardly move my neck because yesterday we had to do summersaults, and backwards rolls, and cartwheels, and handstands (which I craftily avoided by switching to another group) and other things that my body hasn't experienced in many, many years.

The good news is that I almost managed to get onto the trapeze the right way--the graceful way. And I climbed the fabric properly--all the way to the ceiling! (That's right. You can oooh and ahhh.) Naturally I was feeling pretty good about myself so, naturally, the next task was to put both arms through the fabric, take a running leap, flip upside down and let go. Yeah. I had a problem with that one. Oh, and I almost forgot to mention the wheel barrow race. How could I forget the wheel barrow race? It wasn't just a regular race on a flat surface. We actually had to climb over two obstacles. Okay, they were just mats but they were blocking the path and we had to go over them--on our hands. With our feet in the air. As I was climbing onto the first one my back dipped dangerously close to the floor, my arms started to buckle, the super strong, flexible, cute young girl who was holding my ankles shouted, "You can do it!" The teacher yelled from the sidelines, "Come on you've almost got it!" I could see the other moms--the sane ones that just watch the class--cheering me on (they were probably just talking amongst themselves but I imagined they were cheering me on), so I straightened my back out, gave my arms a big push and climbed over the obstacle! I made it! I did not end up being the only person in the class who couldn't complete the wheelbarrow race! Woohoo!

See what I mean, though? Humility bank. Mine's filling up.

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