Climbing a mountain

Climbing a mountain. Literally, not figuratively.

A while back when I was in Hawaii visiting my sister, she decided to take me to explore all the ups and downs of the Hawaiian terrain. Which apparently involved climbing down mountain sides on lava rocks.

Off one of the trails outside of Waikiki, there’s a well worn path that takes you past a chain fence warning visitors they are no longer on the path. In Hawaii, signs of warning and/or trespassing are like speed limits: ignored by 99% of the population.

Climbing a mountain

So I followed my sister over the cliff.

Seriously, it was a cliff, that had enough texture in the lava rock to slowly climb down towards the ocean. And climb we did.

Step by step, I hopped and skidded and eased myself from one section of the path to the next. It was a bumpy, uneasy road at first, but as we moved forward I could feel my feet finding their way and eagerly used my hands to help me drop from one rock to the next, being careful not to pitch forward or fall backwards. I eventually found my rhythym and clambored down the mountain while looking straight out to sea. The waves getting closer as the original path fell away.

We chatted for a while but fell silent during the tricky parts, and the silence allowed me to become one with my body. I felt the same confidence in my legs and my arms, my muscles and tendons, heartand lungs, that I used to feel when running. During that climb I knew my body like I did as a gymnast in middle school or during track workouts in high school. I was back in the gym with toned arms and flexible limbs. I knew where my feet were before they landed and could feel every move of my body before it happened. It was the kind of oneness with my body that meditation strives for.

The sun beat down on me as we descended and slowly reached our destination. All of a sudden my desk-work body morphed into what it was once – unbearably young and undeniably athletic. Sure, when we finally got to the tide pools at the bottom of the cliff and stripped to our bikinis I was still the same girl who has to truly sturggle to complete 15 pushups and has spent the last 2 years primarily on my slightly cushy bum from 9-5. But during that climb I was who I once was.

And I loved every minute of it. Which is why I intend to get that girl back no matter how many early morning runs or gym sessions it takes. Because there’s nothing more delightful than doing something truly physically challenging, and succeeding wildly.

Nakey girls on stage

Last weekend I did something crazy…. I packed my bags and went to Vegas!

It was my husband’s idea. We were going to CA for a conference, but neither he nor I have been to Sin City as adults. And let’s face it, when we visited with our families as teenagers, there wasn’t much “sin” to be had. So we threw together an odd assortment of activities to get in all our jollies while there: hiking red rock canyon, exploring the desert, chowing down on all-you-can eat buffets, wandering along Fremont street and seeing naked girls.

You know, because that’s what Vegas is about.

Before you get all hot and bothered, this isn’t a story about escorts and brothels. It’s not about three way sex or a bouquet of vaginas. At least not directly.

We did something much more tame. We went to a little show on the Strip. A show with no prejudice or discrimination. A show set in a world where age, beauty and gender are nothing but words. A performance with amazingly skilled performers… that did nothing but make me feel amazingly philosophical.

Vegas

A little show called Zumanity.

I signed up for the experience expecting to see something spectacular and maybe a little sexy. I’ve always admired the sheer power of the men and women who grace Cirque Du Soleil stages. Topless or not, I love what those human beings can do with themselves and the props they’re given.

Needless to say, I didn’t go into the night looking for an epiphany or a kumbaya/feel good experience. I just wanted glitz and glammer and maybe some ta-tas. So when we sat down and watched a few performers warm the audience up, I was suprised. There were two very large (and very beautiful!) women flirting loudly with the men – and women – in the crowd. They cracked jokes and comically smooshed their voluptuous back ends into unsuspecting guests’ faces. Between the full-body fishnets and tiny black undies, I think they had less clothing combined than I did if you just counted my undergarments. And those big-boobed, big-bellied, big-butted women brought down the house. Nobody snickered, nobody judged. Because those were two ladies who had comedic power dripping from their scantily clad bodies. They rocked the stage.. a stage reserved for the best of the best when it comes to performers. And in that moment they weren’t bodies. They were talent and comedy and sex. That was all.

The first act started with an introduction by the host … a suspiciously masculine woman who definitely did not have the body of a super model. But she was the host. The main person on stage. The leader. She was chosen from all the skinny, pretty young things to be the queen of the stage, and she certainly knew how to hold court.

And that’s when I started to wonder … did Circque Du Soleil intentionally use their stunning popularity to show just how silly people’s perceptions are? Was this show really about glamor and glitz or was it actually about something much deeper?

The acts rolled on with a pair of girls falling in love while falling into a huge, water filled martini glass. It was an act that would have made parents guffaw and teenagers queue up their most venomous remarks where I grew up. But in that theatre, everyone jumped to applaud the nearly nude couple and their underwater gymnastics. Surprisingly, the same reaction was to be had when a ridiculously acrobatic set of male performers locked lips before walking off the stage with a female performer … a nod to polyamorous relationships in the form of dance?

We saw every race, weight, height, age and appearance. We saw little people and obese women, implied threesomes, foursomes and orgies. We saw men on men, women on women, black with white, dominant females dancing between whips while skinny men spun obediently on hula hoops. There were six-pack abs spinning from ropes and sunken bellies under exposed, contorted rib cages. There were boobs that hung low and ones that you had to squint just to find. There were little bulges, big bulge, pale skin, dark skin, wrinkled skin. It was amazing because the talent was the top-notch talent that is always brought by one of the most fabulous productions in the US, but the talent broke through any box that’s ever existed. It was solely talent… it wasn’t just looks.

And instead of being slightly turned on, I felt slightly turned up. I became attuned to how beautiful it all was. I saw the audience respond positively to things that would have been booed off the stage in a previous decade. Claps came where gasps would have been before. And at the end of the show, the theater stood to applaud the performance, not fully realizing they had seen all the things acted out that they were taught to disdain.

I went home that night feeling liberated. Enlightened. Releaved.

I may have gone to see something risque, but instead I saw a glimpse of the world I want my children to grow up in. A world in which there is no “normal” and beauty isn’t just in the eye of the beholder.. it’s in every human being we see. Topless or not.