While training for my cordao, many seasoned Capoeiristas said the true test of valor comes after the Batizado, after celebrations are over and its back to the gym. Apparently, many stop showing up for class after earning their first cordao. I wouldn’t be like that; after all, I wasn’t named a hearty, root vegetable for nothing.
Fickle Fortuna thought differently, shortly after I got my cordao I injured my knee.
This knee I injured twice in high school soccer. Sophomore year it was my ACL; we were winning 10-2, 1 minute remaining. I got hockey-checked from behind by an angry bulldog of a girl. My knee popped and my mouth exploded with its first visceral taste of hatred. That bitch took me out just because she was mad. Determined not to let her get the best of me, I made it back in six months for basketball season to win the State Championship. Then midway through the soccer season, I tore 80% of my meniscus. This time my mouth swirled with a mixture of self-pity and universal anger. What the fuck GOD, not again. Seriously, why me? Post-surgery recovery was 12 weeks on crutches, no weight bearing. My prom accessory was two brown sticks.
Senior Year I had to figure out who I was outside the world of sports. Being an athlete was so intertwined with my identity it was hard to imagine life without sport. It took time, tears, swears and my mother’s emotional support to see this change as an opportunity for new adventures and self-discovery. I ended up loving senior year and rode this new non-sport identity through college. After college I moved west picking lifestyle over career. I wanted to be a glorified ski bum. I wanted fresh mountain air, foreign accents, outdoor adventure enthusiasts and the daily chance to carve my signature across a mountain side of powder. Like a snake charmer the mountains lured me, I was powerless to its call. Within two years, the mountain and I became one. My new identity was this badass, big mountain skier who had defied self-limitations and launched off a 20ft plus cliff in the back country. The mountain was my life teacher, among many things it taught me about the mind’s relationship to fear.
Fickle Fortuna shook things up again, I had to give up the mountain. I didn’t know life could be so cruel and hard. Back in Philly, I felt as if my appendage was amputated. Something inside of me had died and I mourned this loss of self like a child does their security blanket. I grieved, fearing I’d never recover the feeling of joy I experienced while skiing down a mountainside, or the sense of calm that washed over me as I watched the sun tuck within the folds of two mountain peaks.
Capoeira resuscitated me. I learned that what I thought I ‘lost’ was still inside of me. Dormant, yes, but still there. At first Capoeira and I had a love/hate relationship, I felt completely outside of my comfort zone, inept and vulnerable. But it was this sense of ‘flow’—“the creative moment when a person is completely involved in an activity for its own sake”- that kept me coming back. (http://www.ted.com/speakers/mihaly_csikszentmihalyi.html)
When I relinquished my pride, ego and sense of control; Capoeira became alive. Class was an energetic exchange, a gift constantly in motion, unfolding and replenishing itself. Two months of not playing Capoeria has been hard. But because of past experiences, I can distinguish the “Gift of Flow” from the “Identity of Self”.
A Warrior Princess