[Hooping.org columnist Lara Eastburn gets schooled.]
There are things we say about hooping that have been said so many times we don’t even question them. By virtue of repetition, a statement like “Hooping is easy” has become for us an innocuous truth grounded in its good intentions. Standard issue from a hooper’s mouth, it seems to us a harmless enticement to a universal, all-access joy. When we are approached by someone seeing hoop-dancing for the first time – at a party, at a festival, at a performance, in a class, in our own back yards – it’s the comfortable thing to say. It’s the first thing that comes to mind. Hooping is easy. Here … try it! But whoa, hold your horses there, hoopers. Close your eyes and travel back in time to the moment that began everything hoopy for you.
How easy was it, really, to pick up that hoop for the first time? That hoop may have been just within arm’s reach, but the odds are that you overcame at least one personal obstacle to get to it. Maybe the gap between the you-you-knew and the you-in-that-hoop felt like an ocean. Perhaps that wall was a body-image issue for you, a fear of vulnerability, the belief that you could never be graceful, a combination, or something else entirely. For many of us, the decision to pick a hoop and reckon with whatever that would bring was in no small way a singular act of courage. Yes, bravery! And what came next, whatever it was for you – a new-found love of movement, confidence, a different way to relate to yourself and to the space around you – was nothing short of a miracle!
My point is that while hooping may well be physically accessible to any one of us, we all battle something on our way to hoop bliss. It can be such a deciding moment in our lives that many of us find ourselves thinking in terms of before-the-hoop and after-the-hoop. We recall and celebrate our “hoopiversaries” because, looking back, we know something incredible came into our lives that day, even if we didn’t know it at the time. I wonder if we unconsciously sensed that we were starting such a potentially deep relationship with, y’know, ourselves. I wonder if our bodies suspected somehow that we were about to engage them in a serious, long-term commitment to creative play. How many of us keep those first frightening moments in a hoop close to our hearts when initiating a newcomer? What do we really mean when we blurt out, Here, it’s easy! I think what we actually mean is Here, it’s easier than you think it’s going to be.
I got the “it’s easy” speech straight from the hoop itself my first time. That’s how ingrained the “easy” schtick is. There wasn’t another hooper at that tiny Louisiana music festival in 2002. Just a black hoop laying provocatively on the ground. I wanted to dance SO bad, but the last time I had taken that leap was in a 4th grade ballet class. I was the type to walk into a perfectly stationary wall (as if there were some other kind). The type to evoke public laughter if I did more than attempt to bob my head in rhythm to music. But it was as if that hoop knew my fear. So being the cunning, clever hoop that it was, it started messing with my head. No, I’m not kidding.
It’s not like you’ll be dancing, it whispered seductively, before closing the deal, It’s JUST hooping. Yeah, I thought, it’s just hooping. A half hour later, I was grinning ear-to-ear. I was so engaged, it wouldn’t have really mattered if people were laughing. But I glanced around anyway. And they weren’t laughing. They were watching. Six hours later I “came to” asking myself, what the hell just happened?
Somehow, in the space of a sunny southern afternoon, I was on my way to becoming something that hadn’t been possible that very morning – a dancer. What I had to tell myself in order to take that first step was crucial to overcoming what would have kept me from my awesome. I had no idea I was awesome. Step into the circle and step into your awesome. If you haven’t started hooping yet, there’s a hoop out there waiting for you. It won’t be easy, but it will be much easier than you think.
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 Forum. Lara is also the planting and gardening force behind discovering our hooping community roots at The Hooping Family Tree Project.