When Mistakes Aren't Mistakes

We all have this moment: we’re working on something new and unfamiliar and WHAM! The poi hits us.

Some days it’s a minor annoyance and some days it makes us what to tear our hair out and throw the poi down, never to pick them up again.

Even after more than 10 years of spinning, I still have the latter days. I still have those moments when something is so frustrating and feels so unattainable that I have trouble imagining it’ll ever make sense to me.

I had a private lesson this past week with a young man who was really having a problem with this. He could wrap his head around what he was supposed to be doing, but the gap between knowing what it should be and getting his hands and poi to cooperate was so wide and it was making him so upset.

And I realized as I tried to talk him through it that it’s because he had a pattern that we’re all guilty of from time to time. We sometimes forget that learning is a process--a sometimes long and painful one.

Nobody pops out of the womb being able to dunk a basketball, draw a life-like portrait, or do a 3-beat weave with poi. We all have to work really hard to get any of these skills down.

It’s even more frustrating when there are parts of that process that feel effortless but then we wind up against a wall that we just can’t break through no matter how much time and focus we expend on it.

Why oh why can’t I get the poi to do what I want?

And the answer is: because your body is learning something new. And that is far more valuable.

See, if you could just do a 3-beat weave without any thought or effort then the accomplishment wouldn’t mean much.

We hardly celebrate people for being good at pushing remote control buttons or turning doorknobs--physical skills with such a low threshold to completion that everyone can do them without any thought.

But we do celebrate people who can dunk a basketball, draw a life-like portrait, or do a 3-beat weave. Why? Because they’ve learned something that most other people haven’t. Their minds and bodies have put in the blood, sweat, and tears to acquire something that’s much more rare and thus gives them a greater feeling of accomplishment.

Every mistake you make is a new lesson for your body.

Every wonky plane, every time the poi turn the wrong way, every time the poi collide in midair is happening because your body is learning something brand new.

Those lessons are what take you to your goal. Those lessons are what your body needs in order to get to that goal. I know they can be frustrating and difficult at times, but you can’t cheat your body out of learning them any more than you can cheat your brain out of learning how to construct a sentence or do basic multiplication.

The lessons aren’t always easy and sometimes they hurt both mentally and physically, but they are valuable and they are wonderful teachers. If they’re frustrating you just remember: even the best teachers are sometimes hard on their students. Your poi are no different.

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