Humbling Experience

Here's an amusing anecdote. I recently learnt the headstand. I had the slowest progress. I started my hand-balancing journey after being inspired by the convict conditioning book. I would often practice a wall-assisted headstand or a handstand. I was fearful of falling so I never tried any unassisted variations. But as soon as I joined a college, I promised myself to learn the one-arm handstand. To learn the one-arm handstand, I needed to learn the unassisted variation of the headstand first. I started by opening many YouTube videos and learning the technique. And after a few days of rigorous practice, I could hold a decent 1-minute headstand. This was after a year of practice of being upside down. 

I wanted to show my newly learned skills to my friends, hoping to get the attention I revered. Once in the corridors of my hostel building, late at night, I impelled my friends to watch me do a headstand. I found an empty spot and set up my arms, narrowed my vision and slowly started to stack each joint of my body one after the other. I took a deep breath and lifted my legs, pressing them upwards forming a straight line. I was in a full unassisted headstand. Soon enough, I gained a myriad of comments and compliments. All positive. 

Then one of my friends tried the headstand, and without a second thought was up and balancing pretty well. I was awestruck. How could someone with such little hand-balancing experience crack a freestanding handstand? I felt proud of him and a little embarrassed for how much time it took me to learn. He then started listing to me the athletic feats he conquered during his karate mastery days. He went on to tell me about flips, bridges and handstands. I couldn't believe him, but the display of strength he showed me attested to the fact he knew about those.

I asked him about the handstand, to which he advised me to learn the bridge first. I know the bridge, and I consider myself a master in it. At that point in time, I had spent countless hours mastering it. I took it to my ego and dropped down to a bridge in control. Upon seeing this he too was surprised. I got a positive confirmation and slowly pushed myself into the thoracic bridge, and 'crack!' I pushed myself too much. I felt my entire spine crack and before I could decipher I fell to the floor. I fell gracefully. 

I knew a lot about bridges, so my fall was evidence of that. My friends had no clue that I failed the thoracic bridge. I got back up and went to clean my hands in the basin at the corner of the hostel floor. On the way to the washroom, I felt humbled. I called myself a master in bridge and failed to do the simple thoracic bridge. What a shame. I wiped my hands and continued with the conversation with my friends. I learnt the lesson I needed. Firstly, I shouldn't underestimate my opponents and secondly, never consider myself a master. There is always someone better than me.