Yet sometimes basing can take on a different connotation. After all, acro is a relationship between two people and for a relationship to be good it needs to be beneficial to both participants. Sometimes that isn't the case. Sometimes a partner is chosen for what they can do for you, not what you can bring to each other. I experience this as a base but I'm sure flyers experience a very similar thing. This is what I call Mall Ride Syndrome. For me, as a base, I feel it when flyers simply demand and control what they want to do. There is no interest in the connection or the relationship, instead it becomes "What can you do for me?" or "What can you fly me in?". The flyer puts the onus on me to "do" this to them or to "entertain" them. I find myself falling into the trap of "What would you like do?", "Okay there you go.", "Next?". Flyers aren't approaching me because they are interested in a connection or exploring or teaching or giving. They see an opportunity to do something.
I make it sound bad, but it isn't always so. I think its a normal part of an acro practice to see something beyond what you can do and want to experience it for yourself. That's what a practice is, growing. It only becomes a problem when it happens too much. As a base I start to lose that connection which gives me so much joy and I end up feeling more like an acro robot. Throw in a quarter or two and hop on my feet. Especially as a teacher it can become a very routine part of your practice. You could compare it to a form or burn out, base burn out? I start to lose touch with what makes the practice so special to me. In some ways you end up feeling used.
When it first started happening to me it slowly crept up on me. I didn't even realize what was happening at first. All i knew was i was losing interest in something I loved. Everyone experiences natural ebbs and flows in everything, and so i chalked it up to just that. Except it didn't start to flow again. I got kind of grumpy and started almost avoiding some flyers and being curt with others. I didn't like the way I was feeling or acting, it didn't seem like me. It wasn't until I flew with someone near my own skill level in a jam, quite by happenstance that I noticed a change. For the first time in a long time I felt a feeling of freedom. I could express myself and explore my capabilities. It was so enticing, it seemed the magic was back. However by the next jam it was gone. That particular flyer wasn't there and things were back to hum drum. I thought it was the flyer. Finally someone who challenged me. And for a long time I believed that. What it really was though was self attention. I'd lost myself in all the wants of all the flyers and working to give them the experience they wanted. Somewhere in there I lost what I wanted. Quite by accident someone brought that out in me and it was a spectacular feeling. I've since realized that its both as simple and as difficult as self care. If I don't pay attention to myself and what I need and what fills me up then I have less and less to give to anyone else. The exchange then didn't just happen between two people, it was within the entire community. Some people filled you up, others didn't, and everything in between.
I needed to make choices. I could say yes or no to a flyer. I could pursue a specific goal I had, with different flyers. I could communicate my needs to my flyer. More often than not something as simple as communicating my needs meant we could both benefit from the partnership.
It sounds like I've got it all figured out, but that's hardly the case. Still a practice and still a struggle for me. I hope to continue to get better at taking care of myself and still being able to give of myself. I love the practice for many different reasons but unlike many yoga practices acro isn't one you can do alone. Its a connection, a partnership between, at least, two separate individuals. Just like in real relationships we can't let ourselves get lost in that connection, always giving or always taking. We need to practice self care and care for our partner. No matter what levels each of us are at we all have something to offer each other. You don't have to be a mall ride and neither do I. If you start to feel that way, pay attention to it. That feeling means you need to spend some more time with self care. Maybe that means pursuing your interests or just taking a break. Keep working at it though. Problems worth fixing are so often not the ones that can be fixed right away. Practice and persistence with self care will get you there. At least that will continue to be my practice!