I didn’t set out to challenge myself.

In fact, had I known just what I was getting into, I probably never would have done it.

But I didn’t have any idea, so when a friend asked me to join her in a beginner’s capoeira class I said “yes”.

And then, by the time I found out what I was getting into, when I glimpsed the first twinkle of the water at the bottom of the well I was about to dive into, and started to panic, it was too late.

I had already jumped.

Street roda in Santa Cruz.

The thing is, if you found a box labeled “Jessie’s Kryptonite” and opened it up, you’d find dental work drooling on a frustrating lack of rhythm that would be squashed in the corner with a bunch of bananas. Math facts, foreign language and singing would be filed under the category of things I failed at in school and crippling shyness would be crying right there in the middle of it all, terrified that the whole shebang was going to fall off someplace really high.

Capoeira consists of a circle of people singing in Portuguese while playing instruments and clapping as they watch two people play together in the middle of the circle. Occasionally people offer you a banana for a snack when you are done. If it were performed on a cliff edge and required you to run through your seven-times tables as you did it, you’d pretty much cover all the things I have spent the majority of my life avoiding.

Street roda in Santa Cruz

But, I had already made the leap.  I said I would do it and I have always agreed with Horton when it comes to issues involving faithfulness, so I nervously went along with my friend.

The movement drew me in.

I lived in a pool for a large portion of my life. I knew I could flutter kick with the best of them but I had never done a cartwheel.  I hadn’t done a handstand since I got yelled at in grade school for practicing handstands in the outfield when I was supposed to be fielding balls. But I learned to do both, and to move in ways I never had tried before. (Heck, I didn’t even know these movements were possible. Did I mention I used to live in a swimming pool?) I liked the challenge of the movement. The physicality of pushing my post-children body into doing stuff I never thought it would be able to accomplish pre-children was addicting.

A perfect example of a movement I didn’t think was possible. (And no, I can’t do that, but two years ago I couldn’t do a handstand…)

The movement drew me in but the people I trained with were why I stayed. Never, I thought, could I do this thing. I can’t clap in time to the beat, I can’t speak Portuguese, I can’t sing anything and every time I try to do any of these things in front of people I burst into panic induced tears. But the group was kind, and encouraging,  friendly and fun.  And even though I kept crying and sniffling and panicking, they continued to be understanding and patient. I quickly found that despite myself I was having fun, so I kept coming back.

I panicked and cried at every class I went to for the first year.

But I loved the people. I loved the movement.  Even the challenge of learning all the things that come so very unnaturally to me was starting to grow on me. Also I’m very stubborn.

So I kept coming back.

It’s been two and half years.

I can clap and sing at the same time- (sometimes). I understand rudimentary Portuguese and can sing a number of songs in it (some of which I even understand). I can play inside a large circle of people who are watching me without bursting into panicked tears- (usually).

I didn’t set out to challenge myself, but oh have I ever.

We just got back from a fantastic week-long vacation full of capoeria and all the good people involved in it. When I think of all the fun I have had, all the people we have met and all that I have discovered I can do, I’m grateful I really had no idea what I was jumping into.

Because it’s true, had I known just what I was getting into, I never would have done it.

And I would have missed so very much.






16 comments on “Capoeira

  1. Jesska says:

    YAY!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

  2. Widdershins says:

    Bravo!!! … sometimes not knowing the parachute isn’t there is a good thing. 😀

  3. Georgia Rose says:

    Wow, Jessie, I’m so impressed with you challenging yourself like this. Brilliant stuff, well done 🙂

  4. junekearns says:

    Gosh, Jessie – that’s heroic!

    • Jessie says:

      ❤ Thanks… though heroic seems high praise for what might essentially boil down to an excessive amount of Finnish stubbornness. 🙂

  5. Roxy Starr says:

    Wow! It’s so difficult getting out there in front of people and challenging yourself but so rewarding 🙂

  6. Sharon Jacobson says:

    Wonderful!! What a brave soul.

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