Life lessons learned while slacking.

I recently discovered slacklining thanks to a group here in Denton that get together at random places and times for it. My pup, Izzy and I were out for walk, and happened up on them at a park nearby. It took about all I had mentally and physically to get the feel for it. However, as exerting as it was, it also brought me a sense of calm. And, as shaky as I was, I also experienced steadiness inwardly. I was pretty hooked, and purchased my own slackline shortly thereafter from REI, where I'm a member. It’s a 2” wide Eno “beginners” slackline that’s perfect for a fella like me that could use a little more balance and equanimity these days. 

Perseverance through pain. 

I began setting it up for its inaugural go. My first move was to get it wrapped around the trees just right. My second, was to put the strap through the winch the wrong way, and crank it about as tight as I could get it. My third move was spending the next two hours working every muscle in my upper body down to my fingertips trying to free the strap from the bind I’d placed it in. I’d obviously expected a good lower muscles and core workout. In trying to loosen the strap, I found my fingers weak and bleeding, my shoulders and arms throbbing and my mind at a loss for what curse word I hadn’t yet used. I almost just cut the line and took the loss. However, right at that point, I discovered that I had finally gotten down to the lowest wrapped part of the strap and was able to reverse engineer my screw-up, and begin again.

I didn’t immediately find equanimity when setting out to slackline that day, but such is life. There are trials; some out of our control, and some we directly contribute to. By persevering through the one I had created, I learned a little about being steadfast (outside of the above mentioned verbal expressions). My dad has often quoted the old English proverb, “where there’s a will, there’s a way". My will and perseverance lead me to a solution to my problem. There may have been a quicker and easier one, but I found one none-the-less. 

Lessons learned.

When I was finally able to step up on the strap that day, l found myself learning a few other things as well. I learned that the strap doesn’t shake; I do. I make it wobble and only I can steady it in again. Like in life, even when circumstances seem uncontrollable, I still am. My dad has also said many time, “it’s not what happens to you. It’s what happens within you”. He’s right. I’ve found that regardless of my circumstances, if I get steady, quiet, calm and then press on, I find my balance in the midst of it all. I believe you can too. 

There’s a beautiful Rumi quote that says, “What you seek is seeking you”. I learned that when I leaned one way or another trying to catch my balance, the strap leaned with me; stayed flat to my feet. As I pushed on it for support, it pushed right back with what I needed. I believe we can count on the Universe to do the same, and I’m not alone. William Hutchison Murray once said, “Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth…that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too”. Whether we’ve just committed to something, or seeking more confidence in our commitments, there’s a power out there ready to give us just what we need. It goes to work as soon as we do.

Practicing presence. 

I learned that when I stepped up on that strap, if I wanted to stay there, I had to be nowhere but there. I’ve quoted before, “you are either now here, or no where,” by Baron Baptiste. I learned that I was either solely focused on being balanced; on that next step, or I was falling off of that strap. In life, to be where you’d like to be, you’ve got to be equally focused on your direction and intentional in your step. And, life’s a step-by-step process. There are certainly days and times I’m falling off, but it’s the refocusing, the stepping back up and out that matters. The deeper the focus, the steadier the step. The longer the focus, the quicker you get to where you’re going. 

I learned the strap will give under your weight as you move forward, and to allow for it. You’ve got to allow for give, forgive, and give in life. At this moment even, you may not feel fully supported or accepted as you walk your path - allow for that. You’ve got to forgive the “give”. When others let you down, understand that it’s not even about you, it’s about them. And, let’s be real. In the same way, what you do or don’t do for others; the way you’re there for them or not has much more to do with yourself. I’ve got room to improve, as does everyone else. Do what you want to do with or without affirmation, and keep in mind what you can give back to others who are doing the same.

That’s about where I wrapped-up the strap that day. Hope you’ve taken a little something from what I learned. Let me know! 

Enjoy yourself today.