I heard a story on the radio that talked about people turning 25 and giving up learning new things. I was amazed that people would cease to test themselves just as they begin to reach their peak. A week later I can honestly say I have started to understand it.
I started taking a hula class last week after a girl I work with asked me if I wanted to join her. She has been doing it for a while now and she thought I might like it. I have wanted to take dance classes for as long as I can remember. When I was little I longed to take tap dance just like Shirley Temple. I never did it as a small child and as I got older I was too self-conscious to try. But with all the changes I’ve made to my life recently, I thought why not. I love different cultures and this might be a way to learn more about one I’ve never really been exposed to. In my head I suppose I pictured myself smiling beatifically while my hips swayed gently to the music. In short I thought I’d be good, after all I’m really good at hula hooping!
The first week was fun. I was taken aside while the rest of the class worked on choreography and shown basic moves like the hula step Kaholo, where you move one foot to the side and then slide the second foot over and repeat it for a four count. And the Tahitian moves Otamu where you bend at the knees with your feet close together and swing your hips from side to side and the Ami where you make a circle with your hips.
Let me clarify that is was fun but it was not easy. Standing for an hour long class with your knees bent while you try to swing your hips and all the while you have to keep your upper body completely still. No moving your shoulders and no moving your waist. Seems simple but but is in reality amazingly hard.
Have I mentioned that this class takes place at 7am on a Saturday and that I have so far followed it up with another hour long session lifting weights with the hubby?
Today was the second class and I graduated to trying the choreography. When we arrived, we all sat in a circle and learned the history of hula. It was sweet. Like being a kid again. Then we worked on an ancient form of hula that we were assured was very hard (after last week I believed this). This required doing the four steps from last week while swishing your foot back on the fourth step. We practiced this for a while going back and forth. It seemed simple enough but then we started doing the three step and swish while turning in a semi-circle and I realized why choreography is hard when you’ve never in your life done it before. I couldn’t seem to get my feet to do what every one else was doing and I always seemed to be out of step with the group. Before I figured any of that out we added a movement where we hold one arm out and slightly to the side and we hold the other hand at bust height with the elbow at an angle even with the floor. And each time we swished with our feet, we switched the position of our arms. It was at this point that I realized I can’t do something with my arms and something with my feet at the same time! Before I knew it the class was over and I knew I would need to practice these simple movements, all the time, before the next class to make any progress.
This brings me back to the beginning of my post. Why do people stop trying new things? Because you have to accept that you will look like an absolute fool until you get past the beginning. Because when you’re a child you can focus on the task at hand to the point where you forget yourself entirely. But as an adult that is a lot harder to do. I, perhaps unlike some people, was more self-conscious as a child and was unable to push myself past that. This made me very shy and self-contained. It is only as I’ve gotten older that I have been able to push past the fear enough to put myself out there. Today I felt like a kid again but not necessarily in the best way. The difference between me as a kid and me now, is that I won’t quit.
I was talking to Railey the other day after she had her kindergarten graduation ceremony and she was saying that first grade would be hard. I reminded her that kindergarten was hard at first and now it was easy and fun. I told her that everything is hard at first and you just practice till it get’s easy. Well now it’s time to practice what I preach. I’ve always wanted to dance and I’m willing to look stupid, to learn something new.