Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Finding Balance, or how I stopped worrying and learned to love the box

When I was just starting out learning to ring, I stood on a box. I thought this was because I was short, which I am, and it didn't occur to me that I should not be on a box. Later, I was told to ditch the box because it was time I learned to stretch more. I felt like I had graduated or something, and I proudly stood flat on the floor and let the rope stretch me more and more. This made sense to me, because I'm not the only short woman ringing in my tower, and I had started wondering why I was the only one on a box and felt kind of dorky to be on it.

I had a problem, though. I was just starting to ring alone, that is without my teacher having a hand on the rope at all, just me with him close by. And I was having a tough time controlling my speed. Well, this is not a shock, I'm new to the whole ringing alone thing, and I kinda suck at it in that learning curve way. But I was getting really frustrated because if someone told me to slow down, I couldn't. I could slow my hand stroke, hell, that sucker could sit in the balance all day, but no matter how I tried the whole show went right back out of whack.

Then someone asked me if I was getting to the balance on the tail stroke. Huh? I couldn't ever remember anything that felt like that, so I began letting out rope, and letting out rope, and letting out rope. I ran out of tail, and still didn't have a clue what they were talking about. Surely I was doing it, I had been ringing tail stroke since I began. But you know, I had wondered about the times I had seen ringers setting the bells on the tail stroke. Even though I had never set a bell on the handstroke, I could see how it would be done. I had pulled too hard and felt the bell go over the balance, and I knew if I eased it over at that point the bell would stand and I could walk away. I realized I had never even felt a tail stroke go over, and that was the ticket.

So I am back on the box, and again, I feel like I've graduated or something. I took no time at all to scare the hell out of myself feeling the tail stroke go to the balance point and a bit over (it feels so precarious!), but now I can tell that I will be able to slow both strokes and actually control the bell. The scary feeling is the same feeling I got when I first became responsible for the hand stroke. It's fast and a little out of control, and I get a real sense of potential danger, but I know that I'll get it now because with practice you learn how to work with the bell. And that seems to be the whole trick, doesn't it? I keep having to remind myself of it, but the bell is going to do what it is going to do in the macro, I'm only here to make the micro adjustments.

This time the box doesn't make me feel like a big dork. My height is a fixed thing, and barring weathers' effect on the rope, the rope is a fixed thing as well. If a box is what it is going to take to get me to the next level, I'll embrace it.

Now, just for fun, here is a pic of me with our tenor.

1 comment:

  1. I have to tell you, this is doing absolutely NOTHING to tone down or rein in my fevered fantasies about learning to ring fer realz, and not just knit methods. The kinds of discoveries you are making now seem to me to parallel - on a larger scale - the ones I have been making about spinning. Geekily enthralling.