98, 99, 100.

I posted a pretty simple video on Instagram yesterday. Here it is:

I’ve been at a pretty low point. My confidence has been hit by skating injuries, I still have post concussion issues and I have lost so much strength I feel like I’m back where I started a couple of years ago. I don’t feel like I can risk playing roller derby. I may well change my mind later, but if I don’t, I will have quit without even passing minimum skills. That hurts.

There’s something important I’ve come to understand and accept through all of this, though – movement is my life. Training is my life.

I went back to Chainstore and I set myself to repeating this simple little vault 100 times. It’s less impressive than a lot of people do on their first day, and I struggled. Without keeping it that small a vault, I was clipping my feet, landing poorly and generally screwing up. So this is it. This is my turn vault right now. This is me doing them over and over because I know that the only way to regrow my confidence, strength and coordination is to grind away at it over and over until it’s natural to me.

I would not be doing this if movement wasn’t the centre of my life. I could do so many other things. I could go to a gym and do generic fitness classes for health, or maybe go swimming, and treat exercise like a chore that I do to keep vaguely healthy (no, not everyone in generic gym classes thinks this way – but it’s a pretty common attitude with exercise for some reason) and then go home and watch American Horror Story. I could do pretty much anything other than repeat this movement.

I’ve said my vaulting here is unimpressive. It really is. My landing is super loud. I’m not graceful. You can see the tension in my hands. Other people in Chainstore were balancing on rails way above my head, doing massive jumps and bigger, better vaults. But this vault, right here, this clumsy, cautious hop from a box over that railing – it’s MY vault. It’s ME. Behind that movement is every parkour class I’ve ever been to. Every struggling, humiliating attempt to get onto and over an object has built up to this very ordinary and banal moment. Every time someone has said just the right thing to keep me from giving up has led to me being there, still not giving up. Every negative thought I’ve had about myself is expressed in the tension of my hands, and every happy training moment I’ve ever had, alone or with friends, is in the jump. No other vault by anyone else could be like this, because nobody else has lived that collection of experiences.

And I’m not special. This is true for every single person, at any level, training anything. Every time you see someone moving, whether at their best or their worst, it’s expressing their real selves and everything that has led up to that moment of time. When you see an experienced, skilled practitioner land a perfect rail precision it’s easy to marvel at their skill. But in that landing is years of trying, failing, boredom, irritation, optimism and sheer grit. Every time you see someone hesitantly attempt so much as a monkey walk for the first time, you are seeing all their past experiences up to now and who they are – their preconceptions about the propriety of crawling on the floor, the softness of their computer-user hands, the spark of curiosity that brought them here, the determination in them that makes them keep trying when they don’t really get why the coach is going on about “opposite hand, opposite foot.” How they learn. How they face the world around them.

This is why movement is my life. It’s not because I’m good at it, or because I’m such a dedicated athlete I believe I will overcome all my limitations and get good at it. That’s really not the point. It’s because I cannot stop. It’s the only natural way I know how to learn about and express who and what I am, and it’s the only way I know how to understand the humans around me.

And that’s why every time I break and fail and lose what little ability I have, I’ll be back. I’ll have reps to do.