I took some time to reflect on this year and of course it turned into reflecting on the last 7 years (time spent with poi), so here’s a long winded attempt to share those thoughts…
Enter 17 year old Morgan. It’s 2009, I’m drunk (for shame!) and exit a house party to drink in the cool, mid-August air. Two, maybe three, kids are outside smoking and playing with strange sock things with lights in the bottom. Cue immediate interest and enough questions to gather the name of the objects, where to find materials, how to make them, and learn buzzsaws, 2 and 3 beat weaves, and butterflies (tog and split). Corwyne (his last name is lost to me now) becomes my first mentor and I spend weeks learning all I can from him.
Fast forward to Christmas Eve of the same year, what would later come to be the single most impacting day of my young life, my mother and I are called into our family doctor to receive the test results from scans, MRI’s, and other tests to determine the cause of severe pains I’ve been experiencing. Sandy, our RN and family friend, sits us down to explain the results. Her words begin to fall on deaf ears as my reality starts to crash around me; I catch flashes of terms I don’t understand, “dextroscoliosis, degenerative disk disease, lordosis, Scheuermann’s disease, spina bifida occulta” and more I can’t recall anymore. She cries as she tells me it’s the product of genetics and abuse, a lot of abuse. We all cry, I don’t even understand why, I just cry. In a matter of minutes my world flips. I feel hopeless, like despite the fact I escaped abuse and survived, that I honestly lost anyway. The following months are full of specialists telling me to expect it to progress into paralysis eventually, no clues as to when, and pills… So many pills; for pain, muscle relaxers, to sleep, to fix the anxiety and depression I must have now, to fix the nausea, and whatever else. I give up. I GIVE UP. People say it’s payment for wrongs of a past life, people tell me I can’t do the things I love anymore, I wake up some days and can’t move from the pain. I have trouble walking places with my friends, I often have to sit, or just collapse without warning.
For 6 months I live in my own little hell fueled by self-loathing and pills. I feel I can’t escape. Then Georgia shows me how far I’ve fallen and what I’ve become. I quit the pills. Life is even worse for weeks it seems. Then it clears, I start to find me again.
I discover that there are some weekly meet ups happening at the library of Southeast Missouri State University and begin to attend them, learning what I can each time. Our group is small, only about 10 people and only 3 spin poi. My first time spinning fire happens on the shore of the Mississippi river, the moon was full and reflecting off the still waters, I’ll never forget those few minutes. The flames casting shadows against the flood walls amaze me, the sound becomes the greatest song I’ve ever heard, and for the first time I fall into a place of peace. The world fades away and I’m left playing with the elements.
Shortly after, all of my fellow poi enthusiasts move from our home town and I’m left practicing alone but still determined. Fast forward 2 years, it’s the summer of 2011 and I’ve graduated now. I make the scariest decision of my life and move to Springfield, MO. Garland McConnell takes me in, someone who’s basically a stranger. We become good friends. One day, exploring down town swinging socks around me as I try to practice Chris Courtney approaches me. He introduces me to the Springfield spinning community and I know I have to stay there no matter what. I move back home briefly but find my way back, more determined to stay. I become part of the local object manipulation community and begin doing gigs and setting up park meet ups. Andrew Knight gives me these opportunities.
For the next few years I struggle to create a market for local performers and build a community. The beginning of my time in Springfield is riddled with recreational drug usage, bordering addiction to MDMA. As my love for spinning grows, my appetite for drugs decreases. I begin to realize that I can’t concentrate enough to practice, can’t focus well when high, and can’t remember what I “learn” anyway so the substances fall to the wayside. I find more and more even alcohol is unwanted and unnecessary in my life and cut back on it as well.
Soon, I’m a spearhead for the local community. I organize the weekly spin jams and even attempt to create Flow Arts based shows to support local charities; we host 2 shows and raise hundreds of dollars. 🙂
2015, Justin Benson and I spend every day we can practicing and he helps me develop something I lack, my own style. He shows me that just because you’re not into it doesn’t mean you can’t appreciate and support it. An idol and inspiration becomes a brother.
Fast forward to early 2016, I plan to attend a handful of flow events, maybe teach at one. I receive an email that Jandro Nerdo has recommended me to teach at Texas Flow Fest and Casandra Bambolê Tanenbaum gives me this chance. With a single recommendation Jandro unknowingly gives me the faith in myself to apply to several events. I get accepted to some and 3 people who are basically strangers at this point give me the chance to travel with them; Mike Hayataka, Jesy Brenner, and Jeremiah Jacobs welcome me to their family.
In a whirlwind change of my small plans I attend 16 events and am accepted to teach at 10 and sub for someone at another. Along this road I meet the most amazing people and find deeper friendships than I could have imagined. Jake Wetzel believes in me and seems determined to ensure I believe in myself, his positive presence battles my anxieties and confidence issues every time he’s around. My schwam fam encourages me at every turn, creating a faith in myself I’ve never had. Zack Lyttle and Jeremy Jay-j Camacho pull me out of my shell (they’re gangsters at it) and share knowledge, laughs, and life with me. The Grand Rapids and Chicago crews welcome me with open arms, becoming the closest friends I could hope for and we traverse the country together.
Sitting, contemplating that my season will soon end I wonder how I’m going to survive months without them. Then I remember that all of them are always there and it’s overwhelming. I’ve found more love in a single year than I’ve experienced in a life time and I can’t show the amount of gratitude I have for it. So, sorry for my rambling but thank you all for accepting me. For changing my life.