Some of you noticed that I was on ski’s in my last post. Took a cross-country skating lesson with a friend from Zurich. If I had a “bucket list” (which I don’t actually), xc-skating would have been on it. I’ve been off and on with the classic type for decades.
After finally starting to get the rhythm via a two-hour lesson, I realized I’d have to practice a lot more to get the hang of it & just have fun. Now I have a dilemma: I’m already three hours a week in dance (1.5 x 2 days), plus an hour in Pilates and usually a short jog on the weekend. Still I thought I’d go again because, well it’s my gap year and I felt I hadn’t gotten to the bottom of it yet.
Then, last weekend it rained!
So honestly. Now I don’t know. I liked skating and dream of it’s rhythmic outdoor style. Yet the weather, with my schedule, reduces the chance of having enough time to learn the way I know it goes for me.
Last Thursday evening in dance class, I momentarily brimmed tears of frustration because I was so tired by then – from work and activity combined – that it was making it hard to focus. Frustrated because fatigue from a full-on, positive week obscured my joy in it.
Even with gap year permission, it’s hard to admit when I cannot do it all.
Back in Sils Maria last weekend! Returning to one of the 360 degrees from here destinations was not part of the plan. I just really wanted to go. Lovely how a not-so-faraway place I’d managed to miss for more than a decade charmed me back so quickly. Wonder if that will happen again? Who knows. A taste of winter magic…
Thank you to everyone who clicked the dance courage video (favorite colors duly noted!) and read about stone throwing. Both a lot of fun to discover. In fact, I regularly walk out of my gap year experiences with new energy. The unexpected connections and interactions are the best part.
Then, oddly, often a wave of melancholy follows. Why didn’t I do this sooner?! Well. Why didn’t I do anything sooner? Too busy. Other priorities. Building a life. Something or someone more important. I’ve done my best to figure it out.
It was only when the mirror started to show me that life will unmistakably move in that skin-getting-loose direction that I finally took the leap to “If not now, when?”
Four months in, I’m starting to simply ask “Why not now?” Especially when I’ve felt it for years. Do I have a good adult answer? Or so many good excuses?
Or would I say it is somehow more the fear of me being me?
With dance underway, I wanted get going on my other gap year dream, which is to explore Swiss culture below the surface and discover it more fully, even after living here so long. Having mentioned this quest to a friend, one surprising connection led to another, such that I found myself driving on a cold, dark December night to the small village of Herznach. To a gym, where I met two successful athletes, Gian Waelchli and Simon Hunziker, who introduced me to their sport: Steinstossen.
I’d heard of it before, even seen a few pictures in the news.
But now exactly how does a clearly-athletic man come upon stone throwing as his sport of choice? Gian explained with a sly smile that he started Steinstossen – literally translated, stone pushing – when Simon recruited him. (Turns out Gian brought some “extra enthusiasm” to Simon’s youth training class, which Simon thought to channel elsewhere.)
And who introduced Simon to Steinstossen? His mother. (Really!?) She competed in the women’s league. Though it was not Mom who taught Simon his technique. That was his mentor Urs. Urs took Simon to his first competition; Simon took Gian eight years later. Both spontaneous “give it a try” kind of events in which the men actually came close to winning.
So it goes in this oldest of Swiss athletic contests – handed personally from one generation to another. The new season will start in March. Until then, these men of Herznach will train together weekly, nearly daily, preparing to defend their titles.
Titles, they certainly hold. An August 2016 headline (click, German)read: favorite beaten by his own trainee. Gian won the 20 kilogram (kg) stone weight class during the huge, tri-annual Swiss Federal “Schwingfest” Tournament. Simon placed second.
The Swiss are well-recognized for inventing Steinstossen and tending to its original form – stone, not iron (as in Scotland, Germany or the distant Olympic cousin of shotput). The men see it as an important example of “Swissness” – the cross region, well-trained sport played as originated in the rural areas, that lives on and lately gains in popularity.
I sensed a Steinstossen character. What motivates Gian, he says is “the challenge, when you see you might win and then wanting to win. Also great when fans come to watch.” Yet the best part “is the group of four men training together and how athletes from the different regions know each other, still go out for a drink after they compete.”
In fact, Steinstossen might illustrate exactly what roots are about: tradition and technique handed from mentor to new player. A healthy athletic striving. Competition yet fraternity. The sense of pride, understated drive, and genuine heart seen in their eyes.
Sport that makes one’s life better. That’s strength from the feet on the floor up, if you ask me.
I want to learn more. There will be a tournament or two on my 2017 gap year schedule. I’ll keep you posted.
Happy New Year! Now four months into not-backpacking, I want to better show true gap experience and personality. Millennials do that quickly and easily with video. Think Snapchat. So. I decided to create vignettes, too, using my iPhone. Here’s my first try. Hitting “publish” on this one will be the most difficult yet. Could look pretty foolish. And it is just going to get worse, as I’m committed to publishing my real dance, mistakes and all, through 2017. Here’s to the positive potential of risk-taking in its various forms, colors and styles…
A few weeks ago, I made my first “360 degrees from here” journey. Will share it simply through images and captions. As Mark Twain once wrote about moonbeams shining behind Mont Blanc, we are not always richer for explaining the details. Some experiences, we must feel.
My favorite moments in Sils Maria, Switzerland (16 – 18 December), from 10 to 1: