Sunday, June 7, 2009

Adrenaline, Endorphins, Serotonin

Recent anecdotes from my life

Around the age of 10 I was traumatized by the experience of going on the baby roller coaster at La Ronde. They normally send the kids around twice, but I was so upset that they let me off after the first round, much to the disdain of the other children, and the chagrin and embarrassment of my sister, 6. I had not been on another roller coaster since then, although I could deal with the flume.

The boys did not have school on 21-22 May. On the Friday we decided to go to a local amusement park. The park has two double loop-the-loop roller coasters. Never in my life had I ever been on one, but I screwed up my courage and decided to take the plunge. On the first coaster the loops are completely vertical, and because of the way it is laid out I found it hard to track where we were going with my eyes, and my head got bumped around quite a bit. On the second coaster Matt insisted that we sit in the very first car. I was hesitant but he jumped right in, so I joined him. On this coaster the loops were stretched out more and it was easier to see what was ahead. I found the second one better, although I had to keep repeating to myself "Just imaging that you are flying and that you enjoy this." Actually, I admit that it was kind of fun, and I'd do it again.

My preferred kind of adrenaline rush comes from sports. I used to rock climb. I would often go with friends to Rigaud. The intense concentration required of climbing is very zen. Your mind is so focused that it becomes quiet and nothing else exists but the moment. The exhilaration of reaching the top of a pitch is accompanied by a huge endorphin release, or as I like to think of them: "the endorphins and the seraphim," or alternately the "cherubim and the serotonin," as found in dark chocolate. I also loved downhill skiing, that feeling of only just barely being in control. Lately I have enjoyed a similar exhilarated feeling from tango class, or a complex dance routine in an aerobics class. I love to dance.

I have started taking tango classes again. I began dancing tango around seven years ago, then stopped for quite a while after the separation. This year I decided to take it up again. Tango is part technique, part attitude. I still had the basics in terms of technique, but I had lost confidence in my ability to follow a lead. The class that fit best in my schedule was a beginner's class. It has come back easily, so I started learning the men's part, as a mental and physical challenge. There is always a surfeit of women in dance classes, so I started leading the other women around the dance floor, and some of them even prefer to dance with me! Personally, I confess that I make a better woman than man, but the experience has been hugely enlightening in terms of understanding the man's role in tango. I have now signed up for the intermediate class in the next session, although I'm going to miss most of the class because of being away in June. I love the way I feel when I'm dancing. I admit that it took a while for me to get used to dancing in heels.

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