12x12 | materials black chipboard stickers (My Mind’s Eye) + white letter stickers (Close to my Heart) + fonts (Constantia, Helvetica)
Although I can still do the splits, and have been known to turn a cartwheel or two across the grass of parks or a smooth sand beach, my days as a gymnast are long gone. Even when, in dreams, I tumble or swing giants or flip along the length of the beam without any hesitation, the everyday anxieties of being a grown woman wiggle their way through. Yet those days still influence me.
When you’re standing in front of the uneven bars, knowing you’ve got to finally throw that Tkatchev, or on the beam trying to build up your courage to flip two layouts in a row, four feet off the ground, you first fill with fear. You hesitate. Your heart beats out a negative: you can’t do this. But you stand there, anyway. You take deep breaths; you visualize yourself doing the move. You dig in with your toes and your heels, and then, suddenly, the negative vanishes. Suddenly your heart fills with knowledge: you can do this. You take another deep breath and then you simply do it.
That is what I miss most about my gymnastics days, that being told by my heart you can. And that is exactly why I need to run.
Of course, there’s no fear in running, no risk of falling or of bruises. The only hesitation is getting out the door, the only thing that holds you back is laziness. And there isn’t the swift moment of clarity. Instead, it is thirty minutes or an hour of extended you can. Running is the only time my mind isn’t full of my negative thoughts. There isn’t any room for them. If I allowed them in, I wouldn’t be able to keep going. So I run, letting my mind and my heart fill up with the positive, with the prolonged moment of you can. And for a while, all those everyday anxieties are left behind.
A Note from Amy
I loosely interpreted the now/then approach. This photo of my running (running right out of the frame!) is seriously my favorite running photo ever. (Mostly because you can’t see the weird face I make when I’m running!) The gymnastics photos are scans—what I wouldn’t give to find the negatives of them.