I speak for the trees…

Do you think that the trees would have agreed with the Lorax?  They couldn’t talk…perhaps they would have wanted the Lorax to firebomb the Once-ler.  We’ll never know.  Some ego that Lorax had.

I don’t like people speaking for me.  It’s why I am an independent voter, and why I kick my boyfriend when he speaks for me at a party. But lately I’ve found myself arguing the viewpoints of others I might not have in the past, and I had to pause to consider why I am doing this.

I’ve been known to play devil’s advocate.  I admit that sometimes, especially when I was younger, I’ve done this just to start controversy. But stirring up things also is a way to shift people’s perspective, even if just for a moment, so they can see that things are not black and white, but shades of gray. And in these shades of gray there is a common ground where we can all meet and use it as a starting place to come to an agreement.

For example, if you stare at a still life subject, like apples in a bowl, you can see colors and shades that the person a foot over to the left doesn’t see.  That’s why when you paint your apple, it may have green stripes, and your neighbor’s may have yellow stripes.  It’s the same subject, but we just see it differently because of where we sit (or our past experiences, or basic beliefs, or what have you).  Neither is wrong.  The truth of what color is the apple is hazy. It is futile to argue with someone that there is a concrete color that is truthful. The hope is that somewhere in those subtleties of color can we find the subject’s essence.

So, in this left-leaning thought bubble of the Bay Area, I’ve strangely been the one arguing more center in a discussion, or just right of left if that’s all it has to be.  It’s not because I am suddenly going to run off to the suburbs, buy a tract house, get blond hair extensions, attend a Republican convention and buy a silver CRV.  Not that any of that is inherently wrong, but it’s just not me. But, when I’ve found myself asking questions about what’s going on politically here, I find myself on the “right” side of a chasm, with people staring at me like I’m one of the women from the Real Housewives of Orange County.

So, I’m left wondering why people who went to college and were taught to think critically, would automatically fall in line with one side of an argument based on what they feel is “progressive,” and consider anyone who doesn’t automatically agree with that line of thought as someone who is not “progressive” by process of elimination?

Well, why Rome burns, I’ll let you all ponder that. I’m going to take a few weeks off. I should have some new tales to tell in March.




Feliz Anniversario

A year ago today I walked into ABADA-Capoeira San Francisco for the first time, and I had no idea about the path it would lead me on, one that I am still navigating today.

That first day of Capoeira was dark. It was cold. It was 6:30 a.m. While filling out the paperwork, I scanned the room and was intimidated by the other students who seemed to already know what they were doing there.

It had been over 10 years since I had trained Capoeira at a rec center on the Peninsula, and I was at least 20 pounds heavier.  I could only vaguely remember the basic moves like ginga, queixada and meia lua de compasso. My kicks couldn’t even make it over the targets, let alone reach them. I felt like I was pushing my body through molasses.

Despite my lack of skills, over the course of the month-long session the instructor and students encouraged me to keep trying and coming back to train. So I did, first to morning classes, then weekends, then weeknights.

Over the first few months, things changed slowly, but surely–my body, of course, but also the way I felt mentally.  I not only had more energy, but more confidence, especially at work.  This confidence in myself propelled me to question why I worked so hard for people who just didn’t care–I was just a cog to most of them, no matter how many hours of the day I gave of myself to the company. I was sick of the fluorescent lights and cubicles, and the constant berating and doubts from a coworker and disrespect from clients.

Capoeira gave me a feeling a hope, that I could change the situation that I was in with my job.  So I started planning how I wanted to alter my work life, but also my health, my relationships, etc. Today I am a hell of a lot healthier and more content with my life.  I still have challenges to face every day, but they don’t seem insurmountable.

As a bonus to the mental and physical changes, through Capoeira I’m doing a little volunteer work, and meeting a great bunch of creative, caring and interesting people.

At my “mature” age, I want to maximize my training, so I’ve made some goals that I can look back at a year from now and see how much further I’ve come down the path. These goals include:

  • learning how to play the berimbau (see picture above).  If you’ve ever tried to play one, you’ll see that whomever created this instrument had a sick sense of humor.
  • learning more Capoeira songs, and eventually lead one in a roda.
  • improving my Portuguese, so I can understand Mestre Camisa without a translator when he comes to the United States.
  • improving my game by playing more in the roda.
  • accomplishing floreiras, like macaco, parada and ponte.

In the meantime, I want to thank everyone at ABADA for helping me on my way, from Mestranda Cigarra and Instrutor Corrente, to all the graduados and alunos for your guidance, help and inspiration.  It’s been an awesome year and I hope this year of Capoeira is even better!