On Doing Handstands

I am quite fond of grassy day sitting, more than I am of sunny day sitting. On a sunny day it is not always required that one sit in the grass. On a sunny day one can sprawl out on a bench, or in the middle of a pathway, although this generally confuses the sidewalk walkers whose waists are level with your head, or one can loiter about anywhere really, even propped along a fence or leaned against a wall is an acceptable place and position.

But the feeling felt on a grassy day is an itch and longing that is more green, one a little less worried about surfaces too soft or too dry, too hard or too wet, with a lack of shade or too much sun, for the goal, I think, is simply to plop ones self down and lay on your back, and watch the marsh mellow shapes floating above your head, imagining they are clouds.

Grassy days also offer other forms of  activity that a bench-sitting, sunny  day could not. After some time pretending to be a barnacle, one can make grass angels. But best of all, and something all people must do on the mildest or most grass-grassiest of days, is do handstands, and what better where to fall down, then there, in the grass, and what better day than on a good green and grassy one.

Well, on one grassy day—or was it a sunny day? Actually, now that I try and recall I can’t quite remember. Anyway, on one particular day where I had both the desire for sun as well as grass, I found myself star-fished out upon a fantastically flat and cozy lawn. As usual, the impulse to perform a few handstands overcame me—and I gladly gave in.

There is something quite unexplainably enjoyable about throwing ones soft and vulnerable face towards the ground in hopes that two palms might stop the sudden planting of that face into the not so soft grass. And this is only part of the fun! There is the childish kicking of the legs, the inverted fight with the invisible forces of gravity and momentum, and, of course, the final floundering flop.

From more than a few summer days spent lying to dog walkers out of embarrassment, that I was practicing gymnastics, I have gathered that handstanding is a one necessary form of frivolity that every person must experience for themself. We should all do handstands to one day do flips, for a flip is handstand come full circle, having landed back on its feet. It is true that there is much flopping that comes in flipping, but often we must learn to flop in order to flip—and we must flop often.

What is felt in a handstand, or the more favored flip, is something no other funny sort of foolery can make you feel: the sometimes necessary feeling of being upside down, of spinning out of control, or for more practical purposes, being disoriented. It is the lesson of being thrown off balance, of having to kick to stand up straight, of having to throw ones face, cute and soft as it may be, at the hard earth in order to beat the pull of gravity.

Handstands are more than half-flipping or half-flopping, they are that which disturbs our equilibrium. In our world we should be lucky to find ourselves always balanced. There is always something, be it gravity, be it stress, jobs, school, kids, footballers hurling themselves at us, crowds, or even stairs, that is likely to throw us off the balls of our feet. I think it best to be prepared, to find a field on a good grassy day and practice our handstands. The better we learn to flop, I think, the better off we’ll be.

So, as the sun went down on my grassy, sunny day, I noticed I had rubbed the green right out of the grass and all over my trousers. And as for my itch to handstand, another itch assailed me—all over my arms, belly and back, where the grass had turned against me. I then decided, after an hour or so of successful flopping and half-flipping, that I smelled and needed a wash and so I went home.



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