Thursday, August 6, 2009

Lessons From The Backflip

My brothers and I are really into parkour, free running, and tricking. If you don't know what those are, they are basically "mobile arts" that involve running, jumping, flipping, spinning, and just generally maneuvering over obstacles.

So we went to a cottage this summer. The surf was up and we were totally enjoying ourselves. But naturally, we had to get in some good parkour. So we set up a picnic table at the beach and did flips off of it. We wanted to learn the backflip, especially. All of us could backflip on a trampoline, but we just froze when it came to regular ground.

But up we went, intent on learning it.

In order to learn to backflip over regular turf, a technique called "spotting" is used. The "flipper" takes position, and the "spotter" gets set to catch him in case he messes up. Typically the spotter will place his dominant hand on the flipper's back for support, and use his other hand to flip the person's legs around.

I was able to spot my brother Collin... and what do you know, he learned quickly.

But, unfortunately, I was the biggest guy. That meant I was pretty much without a spotter.

I could not get up the guts to do it.

And Collin just kept getting on the picnic table and flipping off - over and over.

Eventually, I got my dad to spot me. It was one of the hardest things ever to just throw myself over backward. My dad completed some of the rotation for me, but I mostly made it.

But my dad wasn't available all the time.

So I had to do it myself at some point. Much quicker than I would have preferred.

So there I stood on the edge of the picnic table. My stomach was in a knot, my hands were cold and clammy, and I was sweating like crazy.

It took me forever, just standing there deciding whether to do it or not. I felt sick. Absolutely sick.

But finally, I just gave it all up. I half-closed my eyes, leaped high into the air, jerked my head back, and tucked into a little ball.

I made it.

It was not a perfect flip by any means. But it worked.

I did it again and again. Collin and I performed hundreds upon hundreds of backflips that week. My dad called us "rotisserie chickens", because we were turning over and over and getting rather evenly baked by the sun.

And every time we did it, a little bit of that sick feeling in the pit of our stomachs went away. Until it was entirely gone.

And the more we did it and the more that sick feeling left, the more we were able to properly focus on our form and try different ways of doing it.

Now we can both do it off of pretty much anything, and not just onto sand - we can do it on hard ground.

It's a pretty interesting story, and it tells the truth about a lot of life. Including witnessing - sharing your faith in Jesus Christ.

The first time it it is killer scary, something way out there and totally beyond anything you've ever done before.

But once you make that first step and enter the new world, it becomes totally natural.

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