Slow as a Snail

Sometimes things don’t go as planned. You expect yourself to go forward, and yet here you are months later still spinning in the same spot, unable to move on. This summer marks the third anniversary of starting ballet. I expected to go on to the intermediate level this summer, but here I am still in basic beginner.

For a while there, I thought there was progress. But even after 3 years of being diligent (more or less), I still can’t do a decent single pirouette, do fast soutenus en diagonale or hold a decent attitude in center.  I guess this just goes to show that in ballet, you are never ready. There is always something to tweak, or correct. And really, that’s a good thing. Imagine, how boring it would be if after two or three years, you have learned everything there is to learn! Nevertheless, even keeping this in mind, it is easy to get frustrated. It takes a long time to establish a positive outlook in your mind, and a few negative thoughts can trump all of that progress in a span of minutes. Just a few days ago, I looked in the mirror while doing tendus en croix, and immediately one negative thought after another took root in my mind.

“Yeah, my butt looks awful in these pants.” “My turn out sucks.” “I should try to lose a few pounds of that stomach fat.”

You get the point.

I sulked for the rest of the class. What a waste of precious class time!

The next morning as I was jogging along the river that runs through the suburb I live in , I saw a snail crossing the road. It wasn’t the first time I’ve seen a snail, but it was one of those mysterious moments when something mundane turns into something almost allegorical. I stopped. There it was, bravely and fearlessly crossing the pedestrian road, slowly, but steadily and surely.

“Why can’t we be like the snail?” I thought. The snail might never make it to the other side of the road, but even so it goes on. And so should we, adult ballet beginners. Slowly. Steadily. One snail step at a time.

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