Things You Tell Yourself While Standing On Your Hands

“Push with your shoulders! Keep your arms by your ears! Breathe! Just go over, you stupid bit*h!”

“Push with your shoulders! Keep your arms by your ears! Breathe! Just go over, you stupid bit*h!”

Anyone who has mastered a seemingly impossible feat will know that only practice makes perfect. But, there is always that little voice inside that tells us that if we just understand some tiny trick or piece of knowledge that we will, then, magically be able to perform.

Suppose there were some little blue pill that would just make us stand up straight and stiff!

I used to ask my coach how he was able to hold his handstand for as long as he wanted, and he would always just smile, sometimes offering me a little advice, “Keep your butt tight.”

Often, I wondered if he was actually trying to help or just making a joke about sodomy.

What’s with all of the sexual innuendos?

Looking back, I can see that the best advice he could give me was no advice at all.

The more you try and tell someone how it’s done, the more time they spend thinking and the less time they spend practicing. It’s like trying to read yourself into big muscles. When the only thing helping is lifting the book. Or, watching videos to learn a straddle stretch. You’ll never get to do the splits without , eh em, spreading your legs. Sorry, I just couldn’t help myself.

C’mon, it’s funny!

Despite my better judgement, and in a spirit of sportsmanship and literature alike, I will jot down a few notes, I remember mentally taking, as I trudged through failure after failure on my way to final success. Mostly because, reading them might inspire you to go out and try a handstand… and then, try again and again and again…

Honestly, If I were to write a book on how to do a handstand, I would title it,

Learn a handstand in five-hundred pages.’

Each page would simply read,

‘Do fifty handstands, each time counting how long you’re able to hold it, then turn the page.’
The last page would read, ‘turn to page one.’

I tried mastering a handstand three different times in my life.

The first was when I was seven or eight years old. My hands were always skinned up and peeling. Mom always blamed my hand-walking for it, but I think it was some kind of psoriasis. I remember I got pretty good tottering around with my feet in the air, but standing perfectly still wasn’t even an idea back then. Needless to say, I eventually gave up or forgot about it.

The next time I tried was after my experience with my coach, Chico. He traveled with the Ringling Brothers Circus and taught me gymnastics in my late twenties. No easy feat! Adults are the worst to teach gymnastics! Their stiff, stubborn, and mostly two hundred pounds of arsehole that think they will be the next Jackie Chan.

But, he did an amazing job. Trimmed forty-five pounds off of me and motivated me to learn all kinds of cool skills. Juggling, trampoline, tumbling, parallel bars, and balancing things on my head.

Yet, that perfect handstand was always a loss to me.

It wasn’t until my late thirties that I decided it was time to really push the envelope. The problem I was facing was in dedicating enough time everyday to practice. Handstands are just one of those skills that take a super huge amount of consistent time to master.

I decided to dedicate my thirty-minute lunch break each day to the task.

It started with a lot of ups and downs. No pun intended. Feet up, fall back down. Feet up, fall back down.

At home, I would prop against a wall on occasion. I tried both forward and backward against the wall. Really, it made no difference.

My key focus was on trying not to step my hands around under me, like when I was a youngster.

I wanted to be able to hold perfectly still, like Chico. But every time I would throw my feet up, at lunch, back down they came.

“Just fall forward, you a**hole!”

So, I started really trying to always fall forward instead of back. I would turn and step out forward. Kinda turning into a cartwheel when I felt I was pitched too far to recover.

“Press with you fingers!”

No matter how much you press with your fingers, your body is going over after too much. I would blame my wrist flexibility. Then I would study how my feet acted when I leaned forward while standing. Then try and imitate it.

“Stare at a single spot on the ground.
No! Don’t look up! Argh!”

Forward I fell. Then I started pitching back again.

“Kick your feet harder!
No, not that hard you idiot!”

“Point your toes. No. You look like a pansy, just relax.”

“There, you got it. One. Two. Thr…”

“Okay, you got this. One…
Fuc*&ng C8**!”

The results were so erratic; I felt like I was getting no where. It was so disheartening that many times, I really felt I was just wasting my time, or even worse, just practicing bad habits.

“Shoulders over hands, hips over shoulders, feet over… Sh*t!”

Again and again I went, reminding myself that juggling had taken a super amount of persistence too.
After a couple of months, I thought I had discovered a breakthrough. Really though, you always think you’ve discovered a breakthrough, then you fall after two seconds later on that night.
Mostly, I had noticed that if I wanted to pitch backward, I should press my shoulders up hard and lock out my arms. If I wanted to pitch forward, I should loosen my shoulders and elbows a little.

This is totally not always the case so don’t take my word for it!

But, in the knowledge I was working with at that time, I was experimenting with locking one arm and shoulder out completely and using the other hand to keep balance. Kinda like when you’re standing around. You may not notice but one knee is generally locked and the other slightly relaxed, doing the tiny movements of support stability.
What I felt was helping was for my entire body to be resting on top of a stilt, which was one of my arms locked out. So, not so much muscle was working as was the bone structure holding me up.

“Pretend there are eyes on my feet.”

I started letting my feet hang over my head a little like I was leading with them. Trying to forget I had a head completely. Maybe, if I pretend my eyes are in my feet I can focus more on moving my trunk around to balance, I thought.
This resulted in my tottering around like a stork. That went on for a week or so.

“You’re suppose to be standing still!”

I had made it to a point where I could stay stationary on my hands for about twenty seconds solid. Not every time. Sometimes, I wouldn’t kick up far enough and right back down I would come, calling myself the C-word and angrily reminding myself,

“If you don’t put enough effort into the trick, right off the bat, then, it’s worthless!”

The only time thinking does you any good is before the trick. After it starts, it’s all about breathing and feeling.
Nothing is worse than fowling up a trick before you even get started.

I now feel for magicians!

People will watch you go up into a handstand. Then they will watch you stand there for a second or two. After about ten seconds they start thinking,

“This is amazing!”

If they decide to count, they may make it to thirty or forty before getting bored and deciding you can hold it forever.
But, the key is to not muck up the start.
So, I started doing anything possible to avoid stepping backward out of my handstand. Step back with a hand if I must. Always on the heel of the palm. Anything. Just never mess up the start.
The real trick in anything is consistency. If I would have learned that lesson early, then perhaps life wouldn’t have been the only thing upside down since I was seven.
Now, I can hold my handstand for lots and lots of seconds… but who’s counting?

Jay Horne is an author and publisher out of Bradenton, Florida who has shared a genuine interest in philosophy and writing since early childhood. He is a husband and father of four. Jay enjoys writing fiction, humor, horror, and teen & young adult.

View all of his professional and philosophical works of literature on his Amazon author page where you will find blogs, videos, and free excerpts:
Jay M Horne