The foundational principle of Marsha Linehan’s Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is the willingness to accept the limitations a condition like Borderline Personality Disorder can impose and at the same time commit to making positive behavioral changes.
I thought of that recently when I came across an article in the NY Times recently that attracted my attention. Written by Gia Kourlas with accompanying videos by Angelo Vasta, it tells the story of how one company of professional ice skaters are adapting to the closure of indoor skating rinks they traditionally use to train and maintain their skills in the offseason.
In response, the troupe, the Ice Theater of New York, has literally taken it to the streets, working out in publicly available paved spaces such as parks, piers and plazas rather than on ice. The director of the company describes this adaptation as “making the most of another medium while you wait for the ice to freeze.”
A key difference for the skaters is that the paved surfaces create more friction on their blades than ice, slowing them down and limiting some of the things they can do. But they make it work because they are willing to accept that impediment and still commit to doing the best they can regardless. I found the substitution of a rough pavement for the slickness of ice to be a metaphor of sorts for the ways that mental health conditions like BPD can add “friction” to a person’s navigation of their life. Linehan believes that for people who have BPD acceptance and change are the stepping stones to “building a life worth living”.
A second feature of the article that also struck me are the accompanying videos of the troupe performing in various public places against the backdrop of the Manhattan skyline. The imagery is mesmerizing and, at least for me, a calm-inducing meditation.
So if you find my metaphorical connection of adapting to skating on pavement rather than ice to be too much of a stretch, I hope that you at least will enjoy the videos.