Like most people in their early twenties, the concept of my own identity was a constant personal struggle. My attention was near always pulled in multiple directions which left me emotionally drained and depleted in ways I had not yet come to realize. Feeling unsatisfied with my own existence, my personal life was a constant field of instability and turmoil. I was in a never ending state of stress, malcontent and resentment towards myself and others due to my lack of connection, be it with myself, or the world I was experiencing at that time. After a string of explosive failed relationships and trauma at the hands of constantly fighting this internal battle, my sense of self was damaged, my physical health was in decline, and my professional life was on a dead end course. I was lost, without even realizing it.
Following a major accident while recklessly longboarding through traffic, a friend of mine invited me to come try Slacklining. "Its over grass, so you'll be safe if you tank it again" he joked with me. Covered in bandages, and shaking from fear of injuring myself further, I hopped on the line. I was horrible at it! My body was tense, I couldn't find a center point, and struggled to even get two feet on the line long enough to stumble a few steps forward before falling off.
But I was hooked.
I practiced relentlessly. I cut myself off from the rest of the world, social media, dating, partying, and spent every spare moment I had practicing. I learned to breathe, like I never knew was possible. I learned that facing your fears and challenging the notion of what you assumed was possible can empower you to reach new heights (and lengths) you never could have imagined. Slacklining had given me something to constructively focus my attention on, not immediately knowing how big the world was that I had just stepped into. It was then, for the first time in my life, I had something to aim for, something to work towards and build up to that I genuinely cared about. It was so much more than another hobby or physical practice, as anyone who slacklines can attest to. Suddenly I had a reason to take care of my body, to rest and recover, to view my food as a direct link to my overall health and well being... did I mention rest? Most importantly, though, I learned the value of focus, a steady hand and steadier mind, control, struggle, challenge, patience, and what all those things meant in relation to leading a fulfilling life. Today I walk solo rigged 300+ft lines in the same park I spent that first summer practicing, and the sky is the limit for what comes next for my slack journey.
Through all of this, living in a part of the country where the local slackline community is fringe, at best, I was suddenly tasked with finding and building a local community by tracking down as many slackliners as I could. After years of practice and exposure, using social media as a platform, I can still count the number of active slackers in my area on less than two hands. For such a life changing and challenging practice which has taught me so much, having only a few heads to share it with created a disconnect for me at times. When something impacts you positively, the natural response is to want to share it with as many people as you can, endlessly and freely.
When I saw the announcement post from Kimberly pop up in Slackchat on Facebook, I broke into tears. Even writing this, I've held them back. Through all the criticism surrounding the words "religion" and "church" and the memories people associate with those words, I saw her vision through it all. Being from a part of the country with such a small slackline community, the act of creating a platform to bring others together under the canopy of slacklove has been a dream of mine locally since my journey began, and seeing it happen on a larger scale than I ever imagined is truly a dream realized.
Religion, for all of its historical short comings, was created FOR people and BY people. Calling Slacklife a Church has forced a large part of our community to re evaluate something they may have yet not considered, which isn't always an easy thing to do. If slacklining has taught me anything, though, arguably the most important lesson; it is to let go of everything you thought you knew, not get hung up on the small stuff, and to stay focused on where you are now in relation to where you're going. Slack Happy, Slack Mad, Slack Scared, lost and alone:
But just slack.