During highschool I was always sort of the floater, never quite fitting into one particular friend circle. I wasn’t smart enough to fit into the smart group, musical/arty enough for that side, and not really nerdy enough either. I was in year 10 when I first knew I had severe depression. Seven years on I still have it, but it’s now as much a part of me as anything else, and it’s slowly getting better. This is because once I left highschool and all that drama behind, and went straight into university in Perth (I was from a regional city) I discovered someone spinning poi on campus to promote the circus club that was starting out. My first thought was ‘I need to learn how to do this’. Up to that point I was under the rule of others; parents, friends, expectation, blah blah blah. Unfortunately the club didn’t have enough people interested to start that semester. However, at the comic convention later that year I met The Goblin King from Labyrinth (not really, he was a local street performer and contact juggler) who very enthusiastically told me where everyone from around the city met each week to be weird and wonderful.
Fast forward a little bit, I was still struggling with depression in my first year away from home, but half way through it I was handed my first pair of practise poi by the very same man I met at the convention. He taught me the basics of poi, staff, and contact juggling. I was hooked. Just like that I wasn’t the weird one any more. There wasn’t a boundary or expectation besides ‘don’t be a dick’. So I practised, I wanted to be what no one else could. I wanted these people who taught me to tell others about what I could do. It sounds a bit selfish to say, but I wanted to be someone. So I used poi to cope whenever I had a bad day. It freed my mind and allowed me to just exist with these two bits of fabric and bean bags. I had my own space and the more I moved the more the depression lifted.
The next year I met more friends, having officially started the circus club. I was part of the ‘core group’, something I took great pride in. And I learnt more, taught new people, and the weight went away. And every year since I’m slowly becoming what I started out to be. A happy somebody.
Three years later I am part of a family that I chose. I am running the club on campus that has grown a whole lot larger than the 6 people it started from. I perform every so often for weekend pocket money around work (with the Goblin King), I go to peoples houses not for practice, but to just chill and see their homes. I have friends for the first time in my life that would come to my house, kick down the door and drag me out of bed if I ever defiantly claimed the black dog wasn’t letting me do anything that day.
In short – my poi story is using poi to exist in my own little space, and to be marveled at by friends and peers. It makes me feel special that I can flow on the ‘cosmic tides’ that is life now. It allows me to discard my mood, worries, hunger, sadness, everything. I am here today because there was a couple weirdos who wanted more weirdos on campus, and I walked by and saw two tennis balls in socks being spun about.Words don’t really do justice to what I owe this community and those two twirling socks, but; Poi = Happy.