It will not surprise you to know that I like to move. I tried all kinds of sports as a little kid. I’ve danced, run, biked, swam, body surfed, boxed, flowed, rowed, lifted. In motion is my happy place. Yet, true to form, I’ve never picked a single discipline and pursued it aggressively. Yes, reader, I am a master of none. And I’m (mostly) fine with that.
Last weekend, Max and I went to see a production of West Side Story. I walked out of that theater with the choreography bouncing around my brain and my legs twitching a little. The next day I was in a ballet class— something I hadn’t done in 10+ years. But my brain remembered tendus. Plies. Pas de bourees. My feet have a little catching up to do, but that challenge was thrilling. I got to thinking why dancing was such a welcome diversion for me at this point in my life, when I will never be an “accomplished” dancer.
I do some kind of movement practice pretty much every day, but I hadn’t been dancing— focusing on the aesthetics of movement— for a long time. It was a challenge for my body and my brain to frame movement this way. What is the angle of my elbow, not for maximum power or efficiency, but for beauty? Clicking into this approach is like resetting something, flipping a switch. Then, I think about clicking into running: each movement is calibrated for efficiency and economy, so the repetitive motions move me forward, recruiting the right muscles for motion. I think about yoga, training the mind to focus on the breath, to feel the alignment of each joint in a pose and balance the tension and release of muscles. I think about training in krav maga, where motion is calibrated to react to what you sense around you without stopping to think. Or lifting, where the focus is generating tension and power. In each of these pursuits, the brain and the body work together differently. The focus is different. The goal is different.
This variety is more than just cross-training. It’s more than using different muscle groups and working the cardiovascular system at varying intensity. It’s practicing different ways of relating brain to body. It’s different modes of movement. So while spending time in these different modes means I’ve not devoted myself to the mastery of one, I think it makes me an all-around more competent mover and more functional human. No olympic medals for me (tear), but as an everyday athlete, I’m crushing it. I’m not burned out, I’m not injured, I’m just moving.