Photo by Masaru Watanabe
So, Dear Danglers, I know I promised you a bloggie on class etiquette (it’s coming!), but I find I have something else on my heart today. Indulge me, won’t you?
Tough Training – When Your Heart is Breaking
Going “back to school” with German wheel lessons was one of the best (and hardest) things to ever happen to me as a teacher. I cannot wrap my brain around what I’ve learned about myself as a student, person, teacher– literally every lesson is a revelation. I would love to say that it’s been a series of pleasant discoveries, but it’s mostly been a lot of “ugly crying” and sheepish apologies. *sigh*
I went to Wheel Weekend in Chicago this past weekend– love it!!! I get to spend time with the superstars of wheel and train with some of the best coaches in the world. I wound up being spotted by a top-level coach I hadn’t worked with before. I was nervous, so I chose a move that was working reasonably well, but I still didn’t feel comfy doing alone. He tried to teach me a new technique, but I just couldn’t get it into my body, and failed again and again… and again. After about ten tries, he threw up his hands and said, “OK – I think we leave this.” And he turned abruptly, and walked away.
He didn’t come back to spot me that day, or the next, or the next, spending the majority of his time with the advanced students. I was OK with that. What I wasn’t OK with was being given up on – designated unteachable. Sounds like such a little thing, doesn’t it? But I was left breathless with hurt. I felt all my shortcomings and failures as a student rushing up at me. Something broke in that moment.
Teachers – Your Words Carry More Weight than You Can Imagine
Today, I am left with a Very Uncomfortable Feeling. How many times have my careless words bruised a sensitive student? How many times has a heart been broken because I’ve had a bad day? How often have my students – who I LOVE – felt the full measure of my frustration, either with them or with my inadequacies as a teacher? How often has a student left my class with their light a little dimmer?
It’s a horrifying thought – that in a moment of frustration or carelessness, I might create scars that last for years, if not forever. That I might unwittingly kill the spark of love a student has for the work, and replace it with the kind of dull, sick feeling I have now whenever I look at my wheel. We forget – we forget how much responsibility we have been given to keep them safe – not just their bodies, but their spirits. Their heart for the work.
I jumped into Johannes (my beautiful wheel) last night for the first time since The Incident. Let’s just say it was a hard class, for a number of reasons. I’m a pick-yourself-up-dust-yourself-off-and-get-your-ass-in-gear kind of person, but every time I rocked, my failure rose up to meet me. I found it more painful to be in my wheel than out of it.
For the Student – Moving On
I’m not exactly sure what to say here, because it’s new territory for me too. I cannot bear the thought of a life without wheel, so I suppose forging ahead is the only option.
Speaking as a teacher, I can tell you this. We have horrible days, frustrating moments, times when you terrify us. We have times when we feel like we’ve tried everything, and that we are failing you. And that is our shit, not yours. And it’s unacceptable when we make it yours. So, when you find your light a little dimmer, when your hand on the fabric or the bar feels more like condemnation than joy, here is a piece I come back to again and again:
“To Have Without Holding”, by Marge Piercy
“Learning to love differently is hard, love with the hands wide open, love with the doors banging on their hinges, the cupboard unlocked, the wind roaring and whimpering in the rooms rustling the sheets and snapping the blinds that thwack like rubber bands in an open palm.
It hurts to love wide open stretching the muscles that feel as if they are made of wet plaster, then of blunt knives, then of sharp knives. It hurts to thwart the reflexes of grab, of clutch; to love and let go again and again. It pesters to remember the lover who is not in the bed, to hold back what is owed to the work that gutters like a candle in a cave without air, to love consciously, conscientiously, concretely, constructively.
I can’t do it, you say it’s killing me, but you thrive, you glow on the street like a neon raspberry, You float and sail, a helium balloon bright bachelor’s button blue and bobbing on the cold and hot winds of our breath, as we make and unmake in passionate diastole and systole the rhythm of our unbound bonding, to have and not to hold, to love with minimized malice, hunger and anger moment by moment balanced.”
Sorry if I’ve overshared, hope it’s not awkward when we see each other next. 😉 Keep your heads up, Dear Danglers. Love and pull-ups, Laura
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