Friday, November 5, 2010

Money III of III: Trust fall

The first rule of writing is "Don't use too many exclamation points." The second is, "Show, don't tell":

I had a friend in college who worked on the paper with me. He wanted to be a fashion designer, but his parents wanted him to pursue something that reliably paid well, so he was majoring in one of the many flavors of engineering we offered.

A couple of years after graduation, he was working in Detroit in the business that made the city famous. That would have been a decade ago; I don't know what he's up to today. I don't know if he ever made a leap to something else. And I don't know how reliably Detroit is paying him now.


At Kroger, there is one clerk that I usually stop and chat with when he's working. This gentleman is probably a decade older than I am. The last time I was in there, he told me this:

Last year, he was bit by a brown recluse spider. While this is never a pleasant experience, his was worse than most. He was in a coma for five weeks, nearly losing his leg.

But he saw the upside in this; during his six-month convalescence, he was able to finish writing three novels and a lot of short stories. (He writes science fiction. Not the kind with zombies or vampires , he says, and no soft-core paranormal porn.) He's in the process of revising the first book to submit it to publishers.


My yoga teacher can testify that it took a long time before I got over my fear of handstands enough to even try them against a wall.

Now that I study capoeira, nearly every class brings me face to face with something I would be terrified to try on my own. Walking in a handstand. One-armed cartwheels. Rolling somebody over my back. Now I'm being threatened with backflips.

Capoeira is the first time I've had to face some of my fears in an ongoing, sustained way. It's a very particular set of fears; nobody asks me to battle spiders or jump off a ski lift. Nobody asks me to go up for tenure.

But capoeira is supposed to be a way of life both in and out of the game. It's not just that there is a lot to learn and that one's fellow capoeristas are a family. It's that the lessons you learn in the roda are also supposed to carry over to your life. This is one of the reasons that in Brazil it's used as a lifeline for kids growing up in less than ideal circumstances, just as team sports are in Anglo culture.

My capoeira lineage is Capoeira Angola Palmares, and it is based on four pillars: Safety. Respect. Responsibility. Liberation.

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