well... just about 3 weeks.
3 weeks left on my 2nd year spent throwing a single wooden yo-yo. i know i haven't updated this blog as i intended. life intervenes. i assuage my guilt by reflecting that really whatever i say here is meaningless to anyone else. this whole experience is a meditation. there's no way, really, to communicate either its specific strangeness or whatever lessons it's contained to someone else. absurdly pointless though it may seem to most, it's a way which must be walked.
i was able to fly down to orlando for the florida state yo-yo contest this past weekend. it was surreal to attend a contest again after the past few years of pandemic yo-yo isolation. my last event was the world yo-yo contest in 2019, and i was not prepared for how nostalgic and wonderful it was to see other players perform and trade tricks. it showed in relief the degree to which i once took for granted years and years of these opportunities. it was so great to catch up with fellow judges, connor scholten and dennis shatter, with eric koloski and sean perez, with the man with the golden mic, danny amir, lucky meisenheimer (who gifted me an amazing hard-cover edition of his book) and with so many players whom i haven't seen these past years.
it's weird to get old. like i didn't get into the yo-yo scene until my mid 20's so i was always older than most of the top players... but now i'm older than some of their PARENTS. and it's crazy because i can still relate to a teenager about trick creation or presentation, or the comic irony of certain weird elements, but with every advancing year my existence as a strange, anomalous "yo-yo fossil" feels more and more baked-in. i feel like i still think of yo-yoing the way i did when i was young, but to consider myself through the lens of a kid at a contest - the irrelevance of a 40-something guy throwing a wooden yo-yo is staggering.
a lot of people asked me about my experience with the deHcade this year. as mentioned, it's pretty odd to be at a yo-yo contest and only be throwing one wooden yo-yo, but it was strangely not difficult. in fact even if you aren't restricting yourself to one yo-yo in daily life, i kind of recommend picking just one yo-yo to bring to an event. try to throw only that. we live in fear of restriction - of missed opportunities. but you also see a contest differently if you take away the specifically overwhelming variety of all the throws to try. you also come to more deeply feel that functionally, all yo-yo's are the same, because it's always YOU throwing them.
yo-yo's are a bit like lenses through which you take in the world. you might see different things more clearly with this or that, but you're not different, the world's not different. you simply adjust your focus. it's interesting.
the deHcade... has definitely seen better days. i have not been delicate with this yo-yo this year, and in the past few weeks and months, it has really started to show the wear. some large jagged chunks are missing from the rims, and i have to be aware which side i throw from on certain mounts to avoid painful catches. the threads have become worn to the point that it needs a lot of care to avoid flying apart on hard throws. incredibly, even with some significant damage to the wood near the axle on one side, it still plays amazingly smoothly.
i think dutifully picking it up from my nightstand every morning and throwing with it every day has been good for me. as i experienced in 2012, i feel close to it, but really i think i just feel close to my own playing - a hard feeling to describe...
Tom Waits has a great quote: "Your hands are like dogs, going to the same places they've been. You have to be careful when playing is no longer in the mind but in the fingers, going to happy places."
i feel like having sought uncomfortable or strange places with this stripped down yo-yo has helped me confront and push my own attitudes of what's "good" this year. mainly i think good yo-yoing just asks a question. sometimes you find an answer, and maybe it's inane, insipid, or brilliant. but the answer is less relevant than the question. it's the asking which matters, and when you take a year to throw a yo-yo which most players would see as laughably primitive, you either content yourself with the same places you've been forever, or you start asking some really weird stuff like "what yo-yo tricks can i make without throwing the yo-yo?" or "how can i make this stalled disc rotate on two planes simultaneously?"
"how can i ask what i don't know to ask?"
"how can i wonder something new about this simple thing?"
i don't really care about going back to bearings for the ease of it or because i miss this or that trick, but i do think it will be fun to go back with that mindset fresh in my brain. i just hope i can avoid falling into only familiar rhythms. but y'know... there's value in that too.
maybe the best evidence for my getting old is the understanding that the greatest misuse of yo-yoing would be in playing without joy.