I loved gymnastics when I was a little. Doing cartwheels, somersaults, and handstands were a source of both fun and pride for me. I swung on the trapeze bars so much that I literally got an infected blister on the palms of my hands and had to go to the doctor for treatment.
Of course I loved the balance beam. It took awhile but soon I learned how to focus on an object ahead of me to keep my balance. Once I got the hang of that, there were balance beams everywhere you looked–the neighbor’s low wall, the curb, the plank that separated the lawn from the garden, the brick wall surrounding the tall tree in the back yard. I spent hours learning to steady myself, learning to look straight ahead, discovering one day that I no longer needed to hold my arms straight on either side of my body in order to stay on whatever I was trying to stay on.
That was years ago. The other day, I tried to do a cartwheel for my son. It was a half cartwheel, nothing like the glorious ones I used to be able to do. Still, he loved it, laughing and asking for me. I had to say no. It hurt my hands to put that much weight on them! No wonder gymnasts are all so short and small.
Anyway, these days, I’m re-learning the art of the balance beam. We women are supposed to be experts at multi-tasking. I am learning that when I multi-task, I do nothing well, and my focus is so scattered, I have trouble completing the job. I’m learning to do one thing at a time. I’m learning to put one foot in front of the other, to steady myself by holding out my arms if I have to. I’m learning to focus on the object ahead, the one thing I want, the one thing I need to do, to complete, in order to keep my balance and my sanity.