Hit The #$%^&* Ball

True story: When I was in middle school we were forced, in the name of fitness, to take PE. I have few more keenly painful memories than the ones of having to play volleyball over those three years.

First off, while I'd been dancing all my life I wasn't what you'd call athletic. Much like my oldest child I had a very low tolerance for failing, didn't learn rules quickly or easily, and also needed glasses so my depth perception wasn't what you'd call laser sharp.

Second? The class always seemed to be populated with girls who'd been held back for some reason or another. They were very athletic, big and mean. I spent each gym class period terrified cause sure as shootin' I'd miss the ball, and I'd get hit, hard, on the back of the head by some tall, strong, scary girl. For real. Can you believe it, where were the TEACHERS?

Third? I don't like things flying at my head.

The one thing I could do was serve. I could serve like a motherfucker. After spending most of the game trying to make myself as hidden as possible, I'd just serve that ball until my wrists bruised trying to do anything to impress the chicks that would later want to smack me blind or get all loud up in my face, for not being able to block or hit or spike.

First world tween problems but real enough to haunt me still at 40.

So yesterday, at rehearsal we played "Ball" which is a simple improv game keeping the ball from touching the ground, while passing it person to person. You play this to exemplify giving and taking, offering and supporting, not pushing too hard, not just being passive.

I cannot tell you how nervous I got. And wouldn't you know it the minute the the ball got in my general area I both flinched and ducked my head, while hitting that godamn ball as hard as I possibly could, sending it way past my fellow players, bouncing with profound meaning onto the concrete.

Metaphors. They are all around us.

Made me think, it did. Much of my life I've either barrelled through things too assertively and quickly (perhaps fronting a bit), or held back invisibling myself (perhaps in the hopes of not disappointing). So rare are the experiences where I am just relaxed and playing and transparently being me.

Silly, isn't it and miraculously magical, that a simple improv game can point out where our strengths and potentials are? And funny, I think, that someone who is afraid of being witnessed, not just seen, winds up on stage so much.

And lucky, am I, that I have the right teachers around me tossing balls at my head, smiling all the while, and giving me hugs afterwards.


  1. Thank you for sharing. :)

  2. Ball, played the way that we learned it at the workshop at BATS a few years back, is one of the best warm-up games, in my opinion. I think that I caught a little bit of Ball religion after hearing the 3 For All guys talk about how they use it, but you're right, it really is amazing how such a simple game can reveal so much about the group of people playing it. There are a lot of things going on there that correspond very strongly to the way that people behave on stage with each other. And, yes, having the right kind of teachers - or co-players - makes such a huge difference...

  3. Right, it was a revealing moment, though I didn't realize exactly what was going on until after the rehearsal. I think a lot of people believe I am competitive, and I guess I am, but some of that stance is probably due to my goddamn inner middleschooler being freakin' petrified she's gonna get whaled on for fucking up the game.

    At least I'm able to reframe it now and start to enjoy things and be a better, more supportive cast mate.

    I watch my oldest and he avoids games and group/team sports like the plague. I hope I can find some ways of helping him to enjoy things more.


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