I appear to have hit post-Olympic slump. The metrop feels as though there’s a lull, a sort of odd calm after (or before) the storm. Signs are coming down, the stands on Horse Guards for the beach volleyball are being dismantled, the Russian team have moved out from up the road, there’s no longer a person in a pink hi-vis jacket telling me over the megaphone when I can cross the road and I’m not obsessively pressing F5 on the BBC live text updates to find out what’s going on. It’s not all over though: the Paralympics are almost here. In fact these Paralympics are touted to be the first sold out ones ever which is really quite exciting. But in the interim it feels… almost too much back to normal. I guess the weather isn’t helping: it’s oppressively close and muggy. I can’t quite shake the feeling of overwhelmingly tired to motivate myself enough to do anything; even class feels a little like a challenge too far. The other night I was so exhausted I almost burst into tears faced with the sandwich selection in Tesco because I simply couldn’t make a decision.
Given my current frame of mind, this seems like the opportune moment to expand on why I feel that a bad ballet class is like a jumper I once knitted.
You know sometimes before class that it’s not going to be a great one. You know sometimes at the first plié that today is not your day. And sometimes you know a while in, something just doesn’t sit quite right and it’s all downhill from there on in. It isn’t the end of the world – it just feels like it at the time – and it’s important to get some kind of distance afterwards, reflect a little and use it all to move forward. My worst classes come when I’m overtired and can’t think straight let alone work out how to contort my body out of its happy mangled place into something more balletic; every step feels like a fight and by the end I’d quite happily just go and sit in a corner and cry. Things that are normally fine go wrong, bugbears turn into great big scary forty foot Voldemorts and there’s a hopeless, crashing sensation of ‘can’t’. Luckily these kind of classes don’t come along too often and generally I know they’re coming from the off so I can readjust my mindset to cushion the blow a little.
If it was all good all the time, where would the point or the challenge of it all be?
I have the same problem with knitting sometimes and that, let me tell you, is vastly more galling than a bad class. Sometimes it’s the pattern, sometimes it’s the yarn, sometimes it’s a combination of the two, sometimes you know from cast on, sometimes it takes a while before you notice. A few years ago I found a jumper pattern that I thought was awesome and beautiful and it was going to be the best thing I’d ever knitted. I was completely enamoured with the pattern and I was super excited to cast on. I don’t quite know what was wrong with it but from a few rows in I had this sneaking sinking suspicion that my beautiful jumper wasn’t going to work out the way I’d planned. But I ploughed on like the stubborn fool that I am even though I grew more disillusioned with every passing row. By the time I’d finished it, I could barely stand to look at it let alone wear it. In the end I wore it a couple of times then gave it away. I couldn’t even bring myself to unravel it all and use the yarn for something else.
There are parallels between the two. I’ve learned that it’s okay to bail on a knitting project if you’re really not feeling it (hey yarn, it unravels you can use it for other things) but I’d never bail on a ballet class (I might sit out allegro or something in the corner and watch because I’d still be learning). But sometimes, with both, you just know that it’s all going to go horribly wrong and you’ll have to ride it out. I like to think I come out the other side of both ballet and knitting disasters a better person…
…I said “like to think”, people who know me well probably think otherwise 😉