The Gymnast

How does the gymnast know when she has leaned too far left or right? How does she know when the focus of her attention has wandered from her true center where her balance resides? She knows by the discomfort she has learned to name imbalance. She recognizes that feeling, and if she recognizes that feeling quickly enough, she rights herself, and seeks her balance again with her next step. If she does not recognize the imbalance, the feeling of discomfort grows as she tips further from her center, tipping until at last she falls. But the gymnast cannot complain about this feeling. She cannot call it unfair and unjust and cruel. Nor can she call herself a failure for experiencing it. She cannot give up the first time she feels this imbalance, because she knows she will always feel a certain measure of it, for it is the imbalance that allows her to find her balance. This discomfort called imbalance is information life provides her about where her attention currently resides. The information is always correct, always present, and always there to help her find the balance she is seeking.

The very worst thing the gymnast can do is imagine there is something she can grab onto for balance. If she imagines some handrail, she might be tempted to reach for it. She might be tempted to believe that balancing on the beam is simply beyond her, and if only she had something she could grab, she would not have to listen to this ceaseless information that does not feel as good as balance. If only she had something to hold onto she would always be stable and never have to find anything. And so she reaches for the stability she imagines, and as she reaches for it this stability moves, and moves, and moves until what she is feeling is falling and the illusion of the stability is broken.

How betrayed she feels when she falls. Why, it is as if someone has pulled that handrail away. What a fickle and untrustworthy world. She gets up, dusty and a little bruised, and contemplates the balance beam. Why bother walking it if I must walk alone? Some gymnasts choose not to return at all, but those who do, feel balance as its own reward, a place in a world conceived for her stability.

9781935961994-Perfect_CS.inddWrite Within Yourself: An Author's Companion. "A book to keep nearby whenever your writer's spirit needs feeding." Deb Caletti.

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