[This week Hooping.org columnist Lara Eastburn gets us thinking about what we say.]
One of the first Hooposophy articles I wrote took issue with the use of the word “trick” in our communal hooping vocabulary. I made the point that, while what we do with hoops can certainly be “tricky,” calling those things “tricks” generally rubbed me the wrong way. For one, there is just no English-language context in which “trick” is a positive term. The word “trick“ tends to denote acts that are deceptive, mischievous, or underhanded. Perhaps more telling for our purposes is its common connotation of artifice or optical illusion. Anybody that has spent months nailing a certain move knows it’s no sleight-of-hand!
Yeah, okay. So does it really matter what we call those things we do in and with our circles? I think so. Because the words we use affect how we feel about what we’re doing. There’s nothing inherently wrong about the word “trick,” of course, but it does imply that it’s something that must be tackled, conquered, subdued, or controlled. We don’t hit the back yard with our hoops and say to ourselves, ‘I’m going to explore and play with this trick today,’ for example. No, we say, “Dammit, I’m gonna nail that trick today. That sucka’s mine!”
We’ve all been there. I ain’t hatin’, just suggesting that the word doesn’t leave a lot of room for patience or experimentation in our minds. I think we can all agree that none of us intentionally uses the term to be negative, right? But imagine how odd it would seem to say to a ballerina who’d just performed her most lovely arabesque, “Hey, cool trick! Can you show me that?” There’s just something about it that evacuates all the play, magic, and hard work from it. In my mind it also becomes challenging to think about a hooping session or performance as a dance and symphony of creative expression if I’ve begun to think of what I do as a “series of tricks.”
In my experience, the difference a word can make is especially felt when teaching and learning hooping. Would you rather be told, “Be patient with yourself as you explore this new movement,” or “Here’s how you do this trick”? There’s something finite about the word “trick” – like it has an accepted form, a perfect execution, like there’s only one right way to do it. And not only is that simply not true, it’s enough to frustrate a new hooper, or turn them off to hooping entirely. And if it doesn’t go that far, it at least cuts us off to what excites so many of us most about hooping – its endless possibility.
Since I first wrote about this over a year and a half ago, we’ve adopted more and more of the kinder and more expansive terms from the world of dance, speaking in terms of shape, technique, skill, and flow. I’ve always been fond of the word “movement” myself, but these days I’m finding even that term is more constrictive than I’d like. Lately, when I hit the back yard with my hoop, I say, “I’m gonna go wander in my hoop for a bit.” Changing the words I use changes my mindset. Changing my mindset changes my hooping.
Lara Eastburn has been dancing in meadows and singing with the moon while spinning in circles for eons at Superhooper.org. Beyond commenting here, you can also discuss this and other topics related to the Hooposophy for living in Hooping.org’s Hooposophy Group and Gorum. Lara is also the planting and gardening force behind discovering our hooping community roots at The Hooping Family Tree Project.