My brain spurts out fear chemicals by the second. “How will I break my fall. Is my neckline too low? Will I flash when I fall flat? These damn skates have a thin blade, how the hell am I supposed to stand straight in them? Maybe trying to ice-skate in my thirties with brittle bones is not a good idea. I should take calcium supplements.”
Buzzing with self-doubt and fear, I step inside the ice-rink.
Ever since I started watching ice-skating at The Olympics some twenty-eight years ago, I have wanted to do this. In some parallel universe, I am a gymnast and I perform ballet on ice as a hobby.
In the NOW, I have spent the past four and a half years looking at people glide on ice, fall and walk with fake penguins at the Dubai Mall ice-rink but have never had the guts to step inside myself.
A 22 year old finally gets me to try this. She reminds me of me, ten years ago.
Her enthusiasm is infectious so I am finally here.
Back in the day when I was six, my brother owned a pair of metal roller skates. When he upgraded to a red skateboard (carefully selected to match the exact one Archie glided along the Riverdale streets on) the roller skates were passed on to me. They were a few sizes bigger but I didn’t care. I would strap them around my bare feet and skate up and down the verandah. I loved the speed and the gush of wind through my hair. I always imagined flying would feel something like that.
My memory must have the balance technique locked in somewhere, I tell myself as I walk a few steps holding the railing.
Imagine trying to cross the Sheikh Zayed Road at rush hour. That is how I feel standing here.
My face is ashen white with fear and an old instructor comes up to me and says, “You know, it’s never too early or late to fall.”
I don’t usually frown at strangers but cryptic is not what I am looking for at the moment.
So I mutter with a twisted face, “EXCUSE ME?”
“Just let go. Look at those kids falling. They are getting up because it’s easy! Adults are crippled with the fear of failure. Let go”, he says.
I think to myself, "is he some kind of prophet?"
I am already in the in the middle of the rink and there is no way back so I give in and leave the railing.
A few steps and my weight keeps shifting back. I keep losing my balance. He tells me to grab my knees “You can control your own fall. Just look forward and grab your knees ”
In five minutes I start skating slowly.
I fall and bruise my hands. My first reaction is to look around and see if anyone is laughing at me. I see no one. I don’t think anyone really cares.
So I pick myself up and start again.
In half an hour, my memory is back! I am actually skating!
I learn to swivel and glide. I learn to walk like a penguin and I learn to fly.
I feel six again.
After three hours of skating, I am exhausted and elated.
This has to be one of the best days of my life.
I learn some valuable lessons today.
Time has always eluded me. I believe in past lives, I believe in parallel universes and I believe that in the present that I am aware of, my time is finite.
I wake up most mornings with a prayer of gratitude. I am alive, so I must make the most of it. By the end of each day, most often, time just flies and slips by me without a noticeable incident.
My biggest fear perhaps is the finiteness of time. I try to give everything my all because I am afraid of time taking it away from me.
Ice-skating this weekend reminded me to let go of the fears I have created around me, step inside a busy rink and make my way through it - the best I can.
Ignoring how other people react or how well some people skate, it taught me to focus on where I was going and how I felt.
It showed me that losing balance is ok as long as I can grab my knees and hold on.
It taught me not to be crippled by time. There will be days when I will glide, days when I will fly and some days when I will simply stand on the side, hold the railing and watch other people skate.
And somehow, in the madness of it all. That will also be ok.