One HOUR, One Bar
Imagine walking for an hour. Easy, isn’t it? We do it every day, more or less. Now imagine walking on a line on the road for one hour. Still easy, just requires some effort watching the line. And now imagine being on a bar for one hour. It’s a battle for focus where both your mind and your body need to make great teamwork in order to win.
It’s definitely the passion for a challenge that drove me here. I love bumping into something around me that everybody has access to and finding a completely new way to interact with it, reviving it in another light. This has been part of my practice since the very beginnings – seeing as many different obstacles in one obstacle as possible. Today it was almost a dance: hands and legs swinging all around in an attempt to balance the body, minding even the slightest breeze, shivering muscles looking for a safe step on a bar. And it was one helluva bar. A green one. Around twenty meters long and steep, so I’d either go uphill or downhill, there were no straights.
I love balancing. It’s fundamental for my practice – warms me up, strengthens my ankles, joints, sharpens my mind. Being on the bar is like being a machine that doesn’t stop making calculations, which you are, in fact. If you stop and think about anything out of this ‘stay ON the bar’ calculation, chances of ending up OFF the bar are rapidly increasing. So, as Illabaca uses to say: “Choose not to fall”. Here I am, in the park behind the buildings, with wiped shoe soles and climbing the green hip high bar. Trying not to fall.
After a couple of minutes balancing and focusing on the bar, I lost track of time. I wanted to make it a one-hour challenge but decided not to bring my watch and rely only on random passers-by. In one way that was good, I could focus entirely on balancing and go with the flow. On the other hand, from time to time I would have caught myself slightly panicking since I had no idea of how much time had passed or remained. Now when I think back, I even like that feeling of lacking any sense of time. Squatting every third step went well, quadrupedal forwards when the bar goes downhill, walking back. It could all take ages. ‘What’s the time?’, I asked for the first time while walking forwards on the bar. Confused face looked at me. ‘It’s 13:21’, she said. ‘Only 20 minutes have passed’, I thought and continued. Sudden dog barking behind my back almost destroyed my concentration. More squatting, more quadrupedal. More difficult. But it was bearable, so I pushed a bit more: squatting for a minute, then standing 30 seconds. I repeated that for 5 or 6 times. Didn’t really count, my calves were on fire.
I asked again about the time. ‘13:39’, said a kid. Good, another 20 minutes. I wished for some Moon gravity, but that didn’t happen. Drops of sweat scrolled down my nose and I managed to maneuver them so they miss the bar. I had a fear that in the way back I would slip onto that same drop. Overreacting? Maybe. But at the moment it was an inevitable part of the ‘stay ON the bar’ calculation. A few more repetitions. Two kids walked into the park and sat on the closest bench. Smartphones in their hands. When I asked about time, it was 14:03. I’m done.
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