Tuesday, July 13, 2010
yo-yo #79: hspin good & evil 2: poison
here's a yo-yo - a good & evil 2: poison. i've always liked this yo-yo.
ok, now that we've got THAT out of the way... i'm always intrigued by others' motivations for playing yo-yo. i'm big on the idea of awareness, and performing a sort of ongoing, live mental-autopsy on myself has become an ingrained habit. i've got a lot of 'extrinsic' reasons to yo-yo:
• i get a lot of attention (way more than i feel i deserve, actually).
• it's kind of offbeat and interesting; people like asking about it in line for coffee or what-have-you.
• kids love it.
• i can do it 'better' than other people.
• i can acquire lots of shiny things.
by and large... all of those reasons stink for me. momentarily comforting though they may be, i see gaping holes in all of them. if, on the path of yo, you use some combination of those as your 'compass', i think you'll get lost and get really, really tired of it. now, you may not see it that way, and i actually do appreciate that. i recognize that i don't speak for anyone else and i don't mean to preach... but i mean... you know me; i am anyway. (and i'll probably use too many semi-colons in the process.)
as awful and incomplete as i find those 'most apparent' reasons to play, i actually do see a number of reasons that ARE valid, and i aim to concentrate on those for a minute. being a yo-yoer IS awesome and worthwhile, and when i try to break it down (which is itself, a difficult and possibly counter-productive task), i come up with the following reasons to supplant those previously mentioned.
• the players: yo-yoers represent a really interesting cross-section of world culture. and while you get people from all kinds of backgrounds and with all sorts of differences, their passion for this ultra-specific mode of expression is a common thread (so to speak). over time, i've developed friendships with a lot of the perceived 'elite' yo-yo players (no, that is not meant to signify 'elitist'), and by and large, it's just fascinating how fully their talents permeate their personalities. most awesome yo-yoers aren't just awesome yo-yoers; they're multi-faceted people - artists, musicians, incredible dads, athletes, aesthetes, philosophers, designers... yo-yoing is something they happen to share, but expression just seems to leak (or blast) out of their every creative outlet. when yo-yoing is just one aspect of a person's makeup, it's so much easier to prevent burnout. i think the 'creative drive' is what i tend to find so compelling about 'yo-yo people' (more so than the yo-yoing). understand, i don't view yo-yoers as a reason to yo-yo in terms of some facebookian attitude of 'friend collecting'; rather the people can help you to view YOURSELF as the multi-faceted individual you are, and as a creative force. when you decide to place yourself not OVER other yo-yoers, but rather AMONG them, they possess the capacity to make you better, as a player and as a person.
• the tricks: i can absolutely lose my self in the tricks. note the "_" between my and self. when i'm throwing yo-yo, and really putting my energy into it, all of the interlocking preferences that i build my self into on any given day just tumble to the ground like misplayed jenga blocks. i don't care how my hair looks. i don't worry about being able to afford the new kicks i think i want. i don't t fuss about that co-worker who grates on me like a medieval hairshirt. i. just. throw. everyone needs something like that. it's available in virtually every pursuit - i just find it in yo-yo tricks. you need to find solace from your self ('a vacation from your problems', to quote 'what about bob'). it's no wonder at all that people who play yo-yo 'compulsively' and worry about 'the quality' of their play get really tired of it. they're allowing their selves (needs, wants, and haves) to keep bashing away at them as they play. maybe those folks should try knitting (i mean that seriously, with absolutely no offense intended).
• it's hard: it's supposed to be. while i wouldn't advocate for yo-yoing as a manifestation of roosevelt's ideal of 'the strenuous life' (hi, artofmanilness.com)... it's good to do things that you find difficult. yo-yoing revolves around the concept of overcoming difficulty. i CAN understand this hold. i WILL hit this trick. i AM going to learn two-handed loops. embracing yo-yoing means embracing that which you cannot yet do, which causes you to recognize your own weakness and inferiority. that realization only punishes those who would otherwise believe that they are great and strong. for a mature person, the recognition of our travails and ineptitude becomes fuel for growth. you don't just do it to collect and acquire tricks and paint them like little bombs onto the fuselage of your life. you do it to discover what you're made out of.
• it happens everywhere: sometimes i refer to my yo-yo as 'a temple in my pocket'. by that i mean you have access to the best part of yourself... always. a professional baseball player only gets to really, truly manifest his art and science on game day (and he needs a ball and bat, 9 friends and a big open field to do it). a great surfer needs a decent wave and a board (the former being frustratingly few and far between). you need virtually nothing to access your self while yo-yoing. a finger. a string. a yo-yo... maybe a pocket would be a nice. people gripe a lot about how much yo-yo x or y cost, but in comparison with essentially ANY OTHER HOBBY, yo-yoing remains delightfully accessible (particularly in the modern era where a cheap yo-yo can still do essentially everything). you don't even have to give anything else up; in fact you shouldn't! one of the best aspects of yo-yoing is its capacity for 'cross-pollination'. i imagine that the fact that the most incredible exponents of the art are also great at other endeavors is no coincidence. being a great painter HELPS you to be a more complete yo-yoer. understanding the rhythm of music HELPS you to understand the rhythm of a trick. it's not required that go off and live in monklike isolation working on yo-yoing all day long. not only will you burn out; you will suffer a worse artistic death - your yo-yoing will stagnate like some hidden, uninhabitable sulfuric pool.
• there is no finish line: you will never know everything. you will never be able to do every trick. you will die ignorant. embrace this. CELEBRATE IT, because it represents your most basic essence; the pulp of your humanity. not only is there always something new to try (some trick, some style, some variation)... it's always as evident and close-by as the next minor mistake. my wife says that 'boring people get bored', and it applies well to yo-yoing. if you can't see where to take your yo-yoing next, then you need to step back. our lives amount to picking a direction and walking in it. we have to choose, and our choice dictates the conditions of the next set of choices. make a choice and get walking.
we're people, and every person is out to 'get something'. if you've spent years forging yourself into a dominant yo-yo player (or a dominant forum entity), some part of you expects to 'get something' for your efforts (yes it does, liar, don't deny it). but whatever you think it will get you... pales in comparison with what you get if you find a way THROUGH that acquisitive spirit. to re-phrase: in letting go of trying to 'get something', you actually get something more valuable. your yo-yoing is suddenly 'on your side', and you don't need to fight with it. you don't need to slog your way through tricks so you can finally pass 'expert' and work on 'master'. you don't need to grope at people and convince them to subscribe to your youtube or mention you in the 5-daily 'favorite player' threads that constantly illuminate the boards. you don't need to worry about what you've got (respect, toys, attention, skills) - cause you've got all you need.
the [near-impossibly idealized] trade-off is... you have to recognize that in truth, you are a very small thing; at most a particle of yo-yoing (and of the world). you have to let go of the attention and praise (or lack thereof). you have to perceive that while your yo-yoing can reflect all that you perceive, it's not the only mode of expression available to you, and that obsessive overuse can lead to artistic ruin. you have to relinquish your grasp on all of the accoutrements and trappings that we HANG on yo-yoing, and become secure in the faith that just playing as you do and progressing as you can... is substantial and meaningful. (yeah, good luck with all that - to me as well.)
in the words of the immortal bard (by which i mean anthony kiedis), 'give it away, give it away, give it away, give it away now... i can't tell if i'm a kingpin or a pauper.'