Diving. Gymnastics. Trampolining. BMX
freestyle. In all these disciplines and more, athletes twist, upside-down, in
mid-air. And thanks to multi camera 30 fps replays, at the Tokyo Olympics we
have been able to follow the action like never before.
We’ve also been introduced to “the twisties,”
the loss of sense of where the body is, in relation to the space around it,
that can disorientate an athlete with potentially dangerous consequence,
despite their training to do what they are attempting to do.
Living with dyspraxia, I sometimes have such
blackout moments simply walking across a room. But the sudden and sometimes
prolonged loss of orientation, especially when we are placed or place ourselves
under pressure to perform, is something I think many of us may be able to
relate to. Not, necessarily, in a physical sense, but in a loss of confidence
in our ability to make sound judgements in a rapidly changing world, or simply
a suddenly changed personal situation.
Whether you are a person of faith, or none, we
all orientate ourselves according to some belief system, constructed by
inheritance, nurture (whether embraced or rebelled against) and discipline
(rehearsed day after day). And many of us find ourselves, at some inconvenient
moment, having to deconstruct our orienting belief system, and build back from
The key to moving through space is not having
both feet firmly on the ground—heels dug in—but being able to orientate
ourselves in relation to the world. Temporarily losing that can be a gift, that
reminds us, and others, that we (and others) are human. Finding it again is
also a gift, reminding us of just how amazing humans are.