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experiential intensity

March 7, 2010

Last weekend (the last in February) was intense in a couple of ways.  I didn’t plan for the weekend to be as such, but having two such experiences back to back got me thinking about experiential intensity.

First off, the Rhode Island Riveter’s played our first bout of the season against what will be out toughest competitor of the year: the Boston Derby Dames.  Ranked 10th in the nation (to our 25th or so, depending on the week), we knew they would beat us, and—having scrimmaged them every now and then—we knew their toughest players.  Sometimes I think this makes things harder, mentally.  I know that’s true for me at least…it seems like the anticipation can be the worst part.

This was my first time jamming for the Riveters, and I was pretty equally pumped and scared!  When you’re the jammer, everyone on the other team would prefer you weren’t standing, and only you can score points for your team.  Once the game got going, however, most apprehensive feelings were gone, and I was off on that instinctual, physical, full-steam ahead journey that is roller derby.  As mental as the game is, your body is taken to this other level where muscle-memory, animal instinct, and adrenaline rule.  Being able to pull your mind out of that jungle and back into conscious, intellectual thought is challenging, but something I aspire to… I’ll usually have a few flashes of it every game, and hope to have more and more as I keep playing.  Anyway, this game was, as we had anticipated, quite hard.  But I also got to see for the first time just how much harder jamming is!  You are really using all of your strength and speed for two minutes, plus your mind is reeling with strategy for how to get through this mass of bodies.  My low point of the game was one jam in which I spent the whole two minutes stuck in the pack.  My high point of the game was scoring four points!

The next day, Sunday, I had agreed to be one of four church members speaking my personal “Credo” in church.  Once a year, the congregation asks a few people to speak about what they believe and how they came to those beliefs.  An open-ended prompt to be sure… and spending time reflecting on it was worthy in and of itself.  While I think it’s common to have religious or spiritual feelings, or to engage in religious or spiritual activities, really soul-searching for how you got to be where you are, and what it is that really moves you… that’s not something that happens every day.

If I had to sum up my credo in a couple words, they would be ‘nature’ and ‘love.’  I spoke about the importance of science and nature in my life, as well as the discovery of both community love and the love of my spouse, all of which enlightened me and illustrated to me just how beautiful life can be.  I spoke about my interactions with other religions—namely Christianity—and the complicated relationship that ensues from not exactly believing in something while simultaneously being surrounded by it socially and culturally.

Speaking about all this is something I generally feel comfortable doing, but standing up at the pulpit and looking out at the whole congregation was really powerful.   Although I didn’t expect to, I spent some time teetering on the brink of tears as I spoke… not because of sadness or necessarily joy, but just intensity of emotion.  By the comments I received afterwards, I felt assured that others had appreciated my opening up… it was an incredibly welcoming and affirming experience.

So, at the end of the weekend, I was nothing short of exhausted.  Two very different experiences, but both intense in their own ways.  Still, after they were both over I had so much to think about… so much to remember.  I was able to explore the nuances of those experiences, which at the time had slipped by so quickly.  And ultimately I had time to reflect on the benefits of DOING things… of having EXPERIENCES.  No matter how nervous, worried, overwhelmed, or excited I may be, life is made interesting by accepting those feelings, reveling in their sensations, and then jumping in.

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One comment

  1. I would love to see your credo posted on this blog. It was really wonderful.



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