Let me be clear: There is no greatest of ease when flying on that trapeze! At least not for this first-timer. There is nothing we do on ground to prepare you for all of the bodily sensations you experience when you're on the flying trapeze. Your arms, back and shoulders get stretched as you reach for the bar. The shoulder sockets get a good tug as you step off the platform and swing back and forth. You've never been aware of your core muscles like you are as you are swinging and pulling your legs up to your chest to hang upside down on the bar.
A day later, I cough and my ribs hurt. I stretch my arms above my head and feel muscles in my armpits I've never felt before. The pads of my palms sting and I feel the vice grip I used to hang on for dear life in my fingers and joints.
I posted on Facebook a photo of myself with the trapeze behind me. A former co-worker who had introduced me to the idea of trapeze class in the first place asked, “Did you love it?!?
There in the middle of the experience, I had my answer.
“No, not really.”
Don't get me wrong, I wasn't mad or disappointed or ready to quit. Crossing this item off my list was a relief and so much different than the other physical challenges. I wasn't feeling a “trapeze high” the way I experienced the high of finishing the 5K.
After this experience, I have a much deeper respect for those whose job it is to perform above the net, in front of an audience, and swinging from platform to platform. But I do not aspire to follow in their footsteps.
The thing is...swinging from the trapeze is HARD. It is physically challenging. It is mentally challenging. I climbed the ladder four times. I stepped off the platform four times. I swung upside down three times. I landed one time and rolled on my neck in a “wish I hadn't done THAT” sort of way. I trembled after each turn. I expected that that reaction would tone down with more practice.
That was not the case for me. There is nothing natural about the trapeze.
I am really glad trapeze class was on the 40/40 list. I got to see myself from a different vantage point. Literally. What I learned: I have trust issues. I trust so easily. On that platform, I put my body and my safety in the hands of strangers and didn't think twice about it. I listened to their instruction and did it to the best of my ability.
I'm hard-wired to trust the way others are hard-wired to be distrustful. This truth about my trusting nature has a double-edged sword. Being so trusting makes me vulnerable to be easily hurt, which I have been repeatedly. But on the positive side, my trusting nature opens doors to amazing experiences and relationships I might not have if I'd been more guarded. It was good to be reminded of this and to be reflective. Being more acutely aware of this inclination to trust can help me as I navigate future interactions and relationships.
I was reminded that underneath this tall, svelte figure of mine is a determined, fierce and focused spirit. I set my mind to trying the upside down swing and when I didn't manage it on the first try I didn't give up. I was scared. I did it anyway. This will be one of the lingering legacies of this blessed 40/40 list.
I also learned that I have a healthy respect for my own limitations. On what would end up being my last turn, I tried “the catch” where someone swung from another bar and reached out to grab me by the arms—a real circus move. Our timing was off. He made contact with my arms, but wasn't able to get a good grasp. I fully intended to try it again, but then with just a few people ahead of me I felt this definitive moment of being done. I was tired. I knew the effort each turn required and after the wait from one turn to the next, fatigue had set in. My head wasn't in the game anymore and I knew I needed mental and physical toughness to attempt the catch.
I didn't feel one bit bad for saying I'd had enough. I'd done far more than I expected I'd be able to do and I was satisfied with my achievements. Knowing our limits and respecting them is a great life skill. I'm really grateful that I am developing it.
I was also confronted with the constant notion that I think too much. I couldn't get out of my head enough to confidently try doing a back flip. The others in my class who did do it told me, “Just don't think about it. Follow the instructions you hear and just go for it.” Nope. I couldn't turn this noggin off long enough for something so sensible. And again. There's one of my limitations, and I'm completely okay with it. I'm not even curious about what it might have been like.
I also thought about how different the experience would have been if I hadn't already trained for the 5K or been doing daily yoga. I'm the strongest mentally and most physically fit I've ever been, and it was still really hard. I tried to imagine if I'd done this when the trapeze season opened in April. I'm really glad I did it late in the season. I'm also really glad to have it crossed off the list.