Unfortunately, for whatever reason, I've hurt myself a little too badly to carry on.
I'm fine. I mean, I'M FINE. I feel a little silly, in fact, since our teacher very recently had a serious injury that's keeping her off the silks. (Hers had almost nothing to do with the inherent dangers we tend to think of for climbing arts - while she was standing on the ground, a rigging hook fell from the ceiling onto her hand, which is miraculously unbroken but very swollen.) By comparison, my ailments are exceedingly minor. I have a strained right shoulder, and a tweaked left. Were I in Cirque du Soleil (henceforth, "CdS") or some such company, these would indubitably be suck-it-up injuries.
Well, I'm not in CdS. ("What?" I know: right?) Giving it twelve hours after the second tweaking, in which time I napped, took some pain medication and got a decent rub-down, I made the decision I have the luxury to make. In my experience, the reason these sorts of things happen in threes is not because of some cosmic predestiny or communique, nor because it's funny (though, Dudes: it totally is). No, they come in threes because some moron decides he doesn't have to listen to the world around him. I'll not be that moron.
That's not to say I feel good about the decision. Why write about it if I feel smashing? No; even past the call, I'm struggling with it. I don't question it in any rational sense. Hauling myself up and catching myself down a thirty-foot ribbon is not what the doctor ordered for a couple of twinged shoulders, and a bad or even hesitant performance doesn't add to my fellow conspirators' performances in any way. Our fearless leader even made sure we knew going in that the commitment was negotiable for this kind of concern.
What is difficult about this is the lost work that went into rehearsal. What is difficult about this is that this is the second time in a row that a silks performance of mine was compromised by health concerns (see 5/25/11). What's difficult is taking the long view, and returning to the dual considerations that: 1) I might need to give silks a rest for awhile, find something else in the physical arts to study; and 2) I am older than I once was, and that's all I'll ever be, because that's how life works.
I try not to think about things this way, that I'm getting too old for anything. It makes far more sense to me to think that as I age, I need to keep improving my approach to physical arts so I can work smarter and be prepared and more attuned to my body. Of course, part of the beauty of physical expression is that it can be so pure and independent from analysis. This sets us up for a classic showdown: Body versus Mind. Will Mind's rationale wither under the indomitable impulse-control-problem of Body, or will Body be left baffled, staring into an empty corner at its own mortal shadow whilst Mind proves irrefutably that it is the very construct of reality?! Sunday, SUNDAY, Sunday! Two enter the octagon, only one may leave! Except that, oh, well, they kind of need one another after all so let's all sing kumbaya, ma' lord, oh lord, kumbaya...
Anyway. It's not a complete write-off. When I was last in Scranton I finally retrieved my first pair of stilts, which had taken up residence there for almost two years now. My plan is to perform a sort of metalworker character, a tall guy from a different time dropped into the art space and trying to find his way to Gowanus, unable to recognize that he's already there. It's a theatrically satisfying idea, regardless of how physically simple the act ultimately is.
It's funny. I've been practicing my stilt-walking after work on the odd afternoon since I got the pair back, just taking a walk around the block to reacquaint myself with the sensation. It's difficult to avoid the cliché about bike riding, but there are things I forgot about stilt-walking. Primarily, how taken with it people are. Just carrying the stilts around invites folks to ask questions, and actually walking on them (the stilts; less-so the people) inspires an incredible repetition of jokes and questions. ("How's the weather up there?" has become to me a challenge to make my response as original as possible in contrast.) I engage in this repetition too. My line is, "It's easy. I could teach you in an hour." And it's true. It took me five years to learn to ride a bicycle, and fifty minutes to walk on my own on stilts.
People very rarely take me up on the offer, however. I think I've taught only two folks in nine years. Most people have talked themselves out of it before they've even considered the possibility, which I think is a shame. Sure - you could fall, you could get hurt. Worse, you might even have to give up. The catch is that the best opportunities available are within that risk. It's those painless injuries of never trying that really tear me up.