Mad Silks

Since May, I have grown very accustomed to "rug burn." Although, really, in the case of silk work it is more accurately referred to as "really insidious synthetic-fiber abrasions that you don't feel at first but then, later, after the endorphins have had their say, burn-baby-burns." Imagine someone giving you an "Indian burn" with an elastic fabric, over and over again, in really creative locations on your body, and you'll have some idea. I've had to resort to the standard outfit for this work, in fact, which (it is my humble opinion) looks much better on the lady folk. And even with my elastic-coated frame, the occasional burn gets by, and this spandex-type stuff does nothing for the drops in which one's thigh is forcefully jerked away from one's pelvis by an eight-foot fall. (Batman must have bionic shoulders.) As Instructor Cody quotes and quips, "If you don't want to get hurt, take up knitting."

I love it, though, and not just for all the climbing involved (see 8/17/09). One thing that's very cool about silks is that it requires a certain understanding of manipulation that can be almost magic-like in its effect. Though it involves more conditioning and less trickery than basic acrobalance, they have in common a priority placed on technique. With acrobalance, it's about learning to draw lines of gravity straight into the ground, and pitch weights against one another into balance. In silks, it's about learning the various methods by which one can wrap oneself up and unravel, quickly, thrillingly, beautifully and safely. (Beautifully is the one I rather need work on; seems I'm genetically predisposed to NOT pointing my toes.) It's very challenging to memorize the different manipulations -- largely because they are as much manipulations of your person as of the fabric -- and my progress is slow. If I could take class with more regularity it would be going faster, but for now it's two steps forward, one step back.

Last Saturday I attended my first class without Wife Megan for company. She is deep into her yoga-certification training now, and that means every other weekend I am once again a swinging bachelor, between the hours of 9 and 5. I am, it must be admitted, the only male I have ever seen at this silks class. This is not all that surprising. Silks are graceful equipment (at least in visual effect) that require a great deal of flexibility. That and, well . . . a significant portion of the wraps and binds concern themselves with one's center of gravity. IF you know where I mean. I could be accused of pulling a high-school Home Ec. move here . . . and, okay, I'm not going to try to complain about being surrounded by athletic women. Okay? I credit us both with more intelligence than that. (Of course, I'm the one who puts his wedding tackle at risk every silks class, so...) But that's not what brought me to silks.

There is something really incomparable about facing a physical and mental challenge, simultaneously. One's emotions can't help but get involved in it, yet one's emotions are often not incredibly helpful in such circumstances. One often thinks to oneself, You are some kind of *^%$(*@ idiot, you crazy stupid...where's your hand? Do you even know where your hand is right now? Not that one, the other one! whilst suspended ten feet in the air, with blood pooling within one's skull. It's great. It's great because it's just you, and you are all you've got to go on when it comes right down to it, where the rubber meets the road. Or, I suppose, where the silk meets the skin. You get scared, you get angry, you get confused -- all those things you generally try to avoid feeling. And then, quite unexpectedly, you save yourself. Maybe it was an accident. Maybe you couldn't recreate it on purpose, and you go three more classes before anything like it happens again. But eventually, you're falling, and exactly the way you're supposed to.

But you'll still get crazy rug burns.