There were thirty-nine AcroYoga teachers and teachers-soon-to-be at the Dutch Acrobatic Festival and over a hundred AcroYogis from London, Germany, Boston, Amsterdam, New York, and more places to innumerable to count. I felt a little nervous, but well prepared as I arrived in Haarlem on a gorgeous blue sky day. I had spent the last five days in Amsterdam training in acrobatics with my teachers (Jenny and Jason) exploring the city, eating cheese and croissants, connecting or reconnecting with other teachers and simply falling in love with the city. And bikes– I had no idea there could be such an incredible sense of freedom in a city. Every moment in motion on my cow-spotted bike was one of glorious happiness.
I was so intensely and creatively inspired by everything: the workshops, the layout, the high level of safety, and the intense level of training, focus and technique in combination. I took it slow and easy, spending a lot of time observing, experimenting, standing on my hands, sleeping and doing it all over again. There was something for everyone no matter your age or experience level. I am coming to the conclusion, that Acrobats are a different animal than the AcroYogi, although it is possible to transform. I like what I refer to as the acroyogi way, “building a foundation slowly and surely step-by-step”, whereas the acrobats were literally jumping onto my hands. ( My life is continually surprising me, and maybe I will be there next year.)
I also felt a sense of coming back to the roots of what I practice and teach, I was struck with a memory of what I was told when I was studying creative writing, “there are no new stories under the sun. It is only in the way you tell them”. There is a precarious balance that is easy to fall from if you don’t know where you come from. The components of AcroYoga for example (Thai Massage, Yoga and Acrobatics) are each thousands of years old from around the globe. I realized more clearly, that there is nothing truly new in what we do, but how we do it, fold it together and share it. It is empowering, as a teacher-practitioner to see how the founders of both AcroYoga and CircusYoga have taken ancient, primordial lineages of movement and play, codified them, given accessible structure through common vocabulary and pedagogy, and that the circle of inclusion is growing exponentially. Coming back to this rooted place, allows me to let go of any sense of ego and focus on the simple intentions of: playful exploration and unconditional sharing.
A couple days after I returned, I was playing in the park with some friends. Two of them wanted to share a “new sequence”. I was excited and inspired that it closely resembled, in that same-same-but-different-kind-of-way one of my favorite new sequences that I had learned in Haarlem. I couldn’t help thinking about the Hundredth Monkey Theory (http://www.wowzone.com/monkey.htm) and critical mass. It all makes me wonder if we are exploring a realm bigger than we can comprehend in these joyful physical practices.
The Dutch Acrobatic Festival– I have been hearing stories about this amazing annual gathering of European acrobats for years. I couldn’t help conjuring up the possibility that I might be getting in way over my head as I booked my airline ticket to Amsterdam. I had put in my vacation request at work in September (almost eight months earlier) to ensure I would streamline my energy and resources to make it happen. I was so excited as I packed and repacked my bags the week before the trip.
Then I discovered, less than forty-eight hours before I was scheduled to leave, that Americans are no-longer allowed to travel internationally if your passport will expire within six months of departure–within six months of your travel dates– or possibly within six months of the return date, no three months within the date of departure– this is to say it wasn’t really clear. I spent two arduous and unproductive hours searching online for an answer to this possible delay of my long anticipated adventure. The policy, is not yet published explicitly on any government site that I could find (yet); but the message was clear, the airlines definitely wouldn’t let me fly. I willed myself to go to sleep at 1:30am, setting my alarm for 7am, so I might be on the phone by the time the agencies of possible hope would be open.
Waking up with a sort of nausea hangover feeling at too-little sleep. I willed myself to be grateful for the day, this was the most stressful self-made emergency I had had in many, many years. I was going to be getting on a plane in a day and a half, or I wasn’t. But I was really hoping and counting that I was… Magically with the support of my mom, two special friends and my work colleagues I spent the day getting my passport renewed (travel.state.gov is pretty sweet and I owe some people some thank you letters).
The details of the crazy passport renewal day were the usual: people walking too slowly in front of me, un-helpful (or sometimes from my perspective rude) customer service reps on the phone, and flat out denial that what I was trying to accomplish was possible. I kept trying to be grateful for the day (this was not a life or death situation), trying to breathe and simply being completely, utterly and absolutely present. How much of the day, of this stress, of the myriad of emotions could I experience without any extra? Could I actually come out of this experience without blaming anyone else for it? As I was finally on a train to South Norwalk Connecticut from NYC to make my 1:30pm emergency passport appointment and the train stalled, stopped, and shut off unexpectedly, I sighed. I was going to make it, or I wasn’t. Worrying, angering, blaming, tensing my jaw– those were all choices. Someone else could be stressed about all this, but I wasn’t going to be anymore. And “Just keep breathing and noticing” became my mantra.
I made it to the appointment. By 4:07pm I had a fancy new legitimate passport in hand. Every single person who helped or supported me that day were unexpected, as I had set out to get it “done” myself. I wouldn’t have been on the plane the next day, if I hadn’t been open to asking for support, and being open to receive it and the truly beautiful people who were ready, able and willing to give it.
The trip hadn’t begun officially, but the adventure certainly had.