The last few days at my running hill at Seal Point Park, I have seen an amazing display of athleticism. After my regular 20-minute HIIT run on Sunday, stretching on the turf at the foot of the hill, I noticed a young woman balancing on one foot, her other leg stretched parallel to the ground, a perfect 90-degree angle. You can see that in most yoga classes, but while in that pose, she was doing resistance band work that surely should have toppled her.
I’d never seen that before, so I watched for a while and soon could not look away, because when she released the pose, she shook and shimmied like one of those undulating tube man balloons in front of an auto dealership, but with no break in the fluidity, and then she flowed into a regimen that showed unwavering strength and precise form – board-straight push-ups on one fist or both, sometimes with a leg lifted – mixed with yoga, dance, runway model struts, stretches, splits, knees-past-her-nose karate kicks, and Cirque du Soleil-caliber contortionism.
It was sheer joy of motion embodied. Her routine seemed at once both spontaneous and choreographed. That impossibility illustrates how the bending body can bend the mind.
Today, answering my request from the prescribed six-foot distance, Lucy gave me permission to shoot video. In these Coronavirus days, this experience is the closest I get to watching live sports and provides new understanding of why that activity is so valuable.
One reason is that in much of the rest of daily life, you pretty much know what you’re going to see. Although some facets of sports are predictable, our games are set up to deliver surprises. Even if the scoreboard doesn’t deliver on that count, the individual instances of improbable reactions and responses of able bodies and minds can still shock and awe.
Another reason to value watching live sports is the admiration, the aesthetic appreciation, of feats we cannot manage but can imagine performing. Even before Sunday, I had tried every single move in Lucy’s repertoire and completed exactly none of them.
You may feel the same about painting or playing guitar or auto repair or wealth accumulation. I’ve never given any of those an earnest try. But when you know how hard it is to do the thing you’re seeing someone else do, and when you think of what must have gone into getting them there, you can’t help but have hope that whatever you put your most into will happen.
Next post in this series: Coronavirus Diary: Opening Day
Series starts at Coronavirus Diary: Introduction