Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Re-Arrange Me 'Til I'm Sane

Yesterday I made a big decision that I hope is going to affect my life for the better. I decided to quit my capoeira training. It feels like a break up. One that ended on good terms, but still sad.

Capoeira is an ancient Brazilian martial arts that I started practicing 6 months ago. I love it because its not only a martial art, it also combines elements of singing, dancing, acrobatics and martial discipline/culture -- and has an extremely rich history as well. It was used by slaves in Brazil under colonial times to defend themselves once they managed to escape from their masters. They were not allowed to practice martial arts so they disguised it as a dance activity, which is why capoeira looks so fluid and graceful.

Pretty much from the first moment I started capoeira I was tempted to quit. It was extremely demanding, physically, and at that time I was not exercising regularly. You need a massive amount of upper body strength (actually, all over strength but especially upper body) to do most of the moves, not to mention an unimaginable amount of flexibility, also in every part of your body. But I wanted to challenge myself not to be such a weakling and quit so fast, and wanted to prove to myself that I was capable of sticking to something and getting better at it even if:

  • I had to deal with the fact that I was the most unfit and out-of-shape person in class, and it REALLY showed as I lagged behind on everything,
  • I am the most clumsy and ungraceful person ever, and any coordinated physical activity is so not my forte (I made myself feel better by thinking, 'at least I can sing!')
  • My memory is so bad, so its really hard for me to memorize moves, even if they are extremely simple
  • I was really slow in class, and needed the teacher to explain something to me a billion times over several sessions,
  • The people I joined with progressed much faster than me, and I was progressing at snail pace rate.

It really was a personal challenge and a test to my personality. I didn't want to give up, even if I felt so awkward, out of place, and like the biggest failure in the world. I literally felt like I went to a random country, like Hungary or something, and everyone around me was speaking Hungarian, ignoring me, and I had absolutely no idea what's going on (weird simile, I know, but I swear it becomes relevant later). And believe me, my motivation was sometimes -5000 but I still didn't want to quit. Sometimes I wouldn't go to class most of the week because I felt so discouraged, and I used those breaks to glue back my shattered self-esteem and drag my ass to training, and I would keep marching on trying to prove to myself that I can do it. 

Eventually, little by little, I got better and progressed a LOT. I proved to myself that I could do something I never thought I could do :) I guess, I finally picked up some "Hungarian" words and was even starting to put together some sentences and have a comprehendible conversation. I could maybe kick someone's ass (and by someone I mean like, maybe a 10 year old kid, or something. I'm still a beginner!). I got a lot more flexible and built up my upper body strength (I used to be able to do 0 pushups and now I can do a few). I learned to play the instruments of capoeira, the berimbau (weird wooden instrument that looks like some kind of ancient fishing spear) and atabaque (drum) without shattering someone's eardrum. I had fun when fighting with my team-mates instead of just awkwardly standing there not knowing what to do (by the way, we don't make contact in training). 

However, the more I felt I was progressing, the more I felt like I was spreading myself thin. I was not focused on music anymore. Most of my day I'm at work, that's already 9 hours gone. I almost never had alone time because training took a lot of my time (it's only 2 hours three times a week, but trust me, every hour counts!). I had social commitments and I began to not enjoy them as much as I used to because I viewed them as obligations that cut into my personal "alone" time and my "music" time. My life was limited to work, capoeira, and like 3 people that are very close and important to me. I had no space for anything else, really. And trust me, things come up! Random errands, taking my cat to the vet, needing to pay bills, going to the bank, seeing family or friends that are coming from out of town... Life is all about the unexpected, and I had set up my life in a way where I had absolutely no room for that, my life was so routine and rigid. And the worst part of it all was that I wasn't working at all on my music and songwriting.

This crazy race against time was driving me insane from day 1 but I thought I would get used to it, or maybe I just need to organize my time better... but I realized that I'm not superwoman and I can't do it all, so I decided to quit because at the end of the day, my music is more important to me than anything, and that is my number one hobby, and I don't have space for another hobby right now. There are so many things we all wish we could do in our lives, but I guess we have to prioritize what is important to us given the free time we have. For me its the people that are close to me and my music.

It makes me really sad that I have to give up, but at least I'm not giving up because I feel like I suck at it. I at least discovered something about myself with capoeira, is that I can do anything I want if I keep sticking to it and trying hard enough! And I think that was a lesson that I really needed to learn. Maybe I'll have time for it in the future when songwriting becomes easier to me and I don't have to spend so much time writing a quarter of a line. Or if my job magically decides we should have 6 hour work days instead of 9 :) Also, I'm going to continue practicing what I know maintaining my fitness level that I acquired so far and improving it through running and body weight exercises, which are much more time efficient than training capoeira. And hopefully one day I will be able to train again, with improved fitness level so that I don't look like the silly and awkward one in class :)

I'll show you guys a video of capoeira. It's not the best representative of how group capoeira is, but at least it has the capoeira music and moves :) 


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