Saturday, February 15, 2014

Scrapping the New Year's Resolutions

It's only 46 days into the new year and I already know I made the right choice to scrap all New Year Resolutions. It's not that I don't believe in self improvement. I've just been playing "doomed to fail" for many years, and I have finally outgrown the game.

In a little over a year, I turn 50. If I don't start doing something different, I'll earn my AARP card a bitter, dried up, resentful and angry old crank pot. I want to make the best of it. Why not? The only thing holding me back is stupid justifications.... and fear.

I am frequently encouraging college students to try something new if the've never seen a particular genre of performing or visual arts. I needed to do this, too.

On January 17th, I did both. I tried something new and crossed off the first item on the 2014 bucket list. I went to a Lehigh University Wrestling Match. I had plenty of opportunity to watch a wrestling match. My high school had a wrestling team. Back then, my sister mentioned a particular admiration for the boys on the team. I knew some of them. I thought their spitting in cups to make weight was gross. The wresting season was at the same as the High School Musical. Rehearsals were right after school and went long into the night. But honestly, even if I had the time, I didn't have the interest.

Lehigh University has a huge wrestling culture. Just last year, an alum gave a significant donation to upgrade the wrestling facility, displacing a number of administrative offices, and even the student campus mail boxes. The wrestling center is somewhat sacred. If other activities happen in the building, there are significant costs to protecting the floor.

The fans who support wrestling are more than dedicated. There is almost a religious quality to their regular attendance and rituals. People do not wander into the sacred circle of competition, but reverently take their seats in their assigned sections. They chant while watching the strength and battle between competitors. Each win makes the local crown stand with generous applause. Each loss is met with respectful and subdued encouragement.

Of the athletes, I was deeply concerned for them. Their legs, backs and necks would end up in such painful looking positions, I winced to watch them struggle to get out. I was in awe of their resolve to put themselves back into a submissive position, only to prove to their strength was more beastly than their opponents. I also witnessed some very.... "suggestive" positions and uniforms.

But the reason why "Watch a Lehigh Wrestling Match" is on my bucket list, is that is was an experience something so completely new. I had no idea how points are earned, what penalties look like, or how to be a proper participant in the crowd. A young person sitting a few seats in front of me turned around to look at me often. I bet he was thinking, "Geez, that lady sure is crazy." I suppose sucking in my breath like I was watching a car accident about to happen isn't appropriate crowd behavior. My friends who went with me were patient with my "oohs" and "aaahs." These are the same reactions I have to watching incredible dancing. I know that performers appreciate positive audience energy. I know when to clap. I know when to acknowledge feats of physical achievement. I just couldn't/shouldn't use the same reactions watching a wrestling match. That, apparently, is weird.

It made me wonder how an audience so passionate about wrestling would question the value of dance. Dancers put themselves in similar outfits, and even less suggestive positions. Of course, I'm assuming that wrestling supporters don't support dance. I could be (and truly hope I am) wrong.

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