This article will approach the following feeling we all have in flow arts at one point in time along our time here in this temporal playing field of flow arts.
“I have all these skills and met all these people but still feel an emptiness inside”
Manipulating objects, the training and drilling portion, usually occurs alone. We find that quiet space to concentrate on the subtleness of our own bodies in connection with a prop. The solitary activity embarked upon, as flow/juggle artists, places us in the mind with patterns unknown, seemingly impossible feats and we stand in judgement of ourselves as an attempt is made to control and to recognize the limits of ourselves and an object. All of this leads to a fleeting moment of accomplishment and visually temporary expression. We judge and measure our progress, seeing our faults and exposing deep frustrations inside, not necessarily connected to our object. We feel like we have something to prove to ourselves; that we can do the impossible. Minor victories propel us to strive for more difficult tricks. We become overwhelmed with the attainment, discipline and refinement of our craft. We create practice pyramids; routines. It begins to change us from the inside, our bodies become more aware and flexible. We apply our practice ethic and our love for it to every aspect of our lives – from balancing a toothbrush to sneaking away at work to watch the latest youtube video.
As we grow in skill and new experiences, relating to our oldest friends and activities becomes challenging. In some cases our old lives are pushed away by ourselves and obsession. We find new groups of friends who also share in the same obsession of solitude and training, only finding release in online forums, or at a spin jam or festival. Our strengths in props are recognized on the internet and in person, and ego loss is natural. The fleeting moments of brilliance trained for hours are weighed against others, sometimes challenging our perspectives on manipulation and our own personal standards of excellence. Eventually the realization that competition and comparison has its limits has a heavy toll on our egos. We now seek meaning for all of our time spent doing this activity that disappears with every movement. Was it a waste? In the end the lesson was not found by our skills or the new friends we found but how alone we still feel with ourselves and our chosen prop.
Editor’s comment: Maybe the lesson is to accept that your accomplishments are your own, and that we are stuck in this paradox of separateness and togetherness. Accept and own your own relationship with your prop and practice because it’s your head, your space, your time. With love, Poppe.