How to Feel Carefree (while Drooling)

Can you remember the last time you were completely free of worry and care? Before Covid? Before you had kids? Before you bought your first house? Before high school? Even longer ago than that?

I remember being six or seven, doing handstands in a neighbor’s yard on an early Saturday morning, and having nothing in the world on my mind except trying to stay upside down for as long as possible and waiting for my friends to wake up so they could come out and play. I miss that feeling — the belief, so ingrained that you’re not even consciously aware of it, that everything is just the way it’s supposed to be and that it’s a grand old world. Until a few days ago, that’s what I thought feeling carefree meant: absolutely no worries and all was right with the world.

My world felt fraught the other day as I headed to my aerial silks class: my car’s oil change light was on, I was struggling to give my kids the mothering they needed, the nearby wildfires had been making the sky an eerie orange so that yesterday felt like an apocalypse horror movie — you know, the usual grown-up nonsense. But I got to the outdoor space where my studio’s aerial rigs are set up and started warming up, and soon we were working on perfecting our 360 drops, which, though I’ve known how to do them for two years, are still scary. All I could focus on was having correct form and being sure I did everything perfectly so I didn’t tumble ten feet to the ground in a messy tangle of shattered limbs.

My thinking went like this: okay, grab the fabric, Russian climb, higher, higher… stop! Now, separate the silks, firm grip, invert! Oops, ugly frog legs, but I’m successfully upside down. Rest a second. Now, cross fabric behind my back, bring it around and over one knee, piece of cake, yay, me! Around and over the other knee, except, wait… around and over… around and…God damn it, go over the other knee! Sheesh. Now, over the toes…? Fuck! Pull down, pull down! Okay, Jesus, fabric over both knees and feet, hah! Suck it! I’m upside down and I… just drooled. Yeah, I drooled right into my nose. That’s something that doesn’t happen every day. Anyway, big sit-up, climb over my legs, wrap first leg, one two three, second leg wrap, one, two… Jesus, one two… for fuck’s sake, hold on tighter and…okay, calm down, leg wrapped. Bring shoulders through, hands tight, don’t switch your grip, lean forward. Now just let go and T your arms. Come on. Just let go. You’ve got this, just let go. All you have to do is T your arms. Except also, remember that your legs stay wide. So, T your arms and legs wide. And also head up. T your arms, legs stay wide, head stays up. But that’s all you have to remember. Simple. Nothing to fear. Wait, am I wrapped correctly? I am? Then just… I just have to… I can’t… TA DA! I fucking did it! Okay, okay, jeez, calm down, adrenaline shakes only last a few minutes. Climb down. Take a bow, get some water. Yes, so I drooled in my nose but I am still a Bad Ass Mother Fucker (BAMF). I killed it. Ha!

I cut out the struggle of trying to get the fabric over my left foot and toes, because that was 45 seconds of annoyance and, basically, humiliation. And drooling into my nose was humiliating enough.

And that was only one trick of many that day; I’m exhausted just thinking about it. In between, I was catching my breath, joking with friends, drinking water, wiping the drool out of my nose. My point? All of a sudden, I realized that I hadn’t thought about my mortgage or taking my car in or comforting a child or surviving the apocalypse. I was as unconcerned with concerns as I had been doing handstands as a child. It struck me that that’s the best thing about having a passion that you love to do: if it’s right, it takes you outside yourself. You’re fully present. You’re just you, and nothing else matters.

So I’ve realized that it wasn’t forty-five years ago that I last felt carefree. I felt it day before yesterday while practicing “flying.” In fact, I manage short moments of being carefree five or six times a week. That’s what aerial arts mean to me. It seems I’m actually quite a lucky girl! (This paragraph sounds like it was written by a seventh-grader, but I don’t feel like fixing it. I hope you get what I mean and that you’re not rolling your eyes while saying, “Not only is she totally cheesy, but she’s clearly never taken a writing class in her life!” Because I have. Don’t be mean.)

Anyway, what do you do that takes you out of yourself and makes you feel totally carefree? I’d love to hear from you!

That’s all for now. Have fun out there!

XO

Jen

PS: the featured photo is a little miniature silks studio I made during quarantine boredom. Isn’t it so cute? Of course, it serves no purpose and I have no idea where I’m going to put it, but making it helped me feel, you know, carefree…

PPS: Hey, check out www.livebeyondlimit.com if you need a passion that will get you out of your head. The Live Beyond Limit community is a loving, helpful, friendly one. It’s one of my favorite places to be, whether we’re actually in the studio or in Kate’s backyard on the outdoor rigs. In addition to being a place where you can experience the pure fun of learning to “fly,” it’s the most supportive community I’ve ever known. All shapes, sizes, ages, and genders welcome! Hope to see you there. 🙂

It’s always a beautiful day to fly…

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