When I was little, my parents recall me pestering them for a unicycle. They didn’t know I was serious (neither did I, really) but when I came across the right one for me in a circus shop in France this summer, my wife didn’t try to dissuade me: she could see I was determined. So I got it – a shiny minimalist icon – and failed to get to grips with it at all. Dismantled and packed deep in the car, it would have to wait til I got home for some serious attention.
Several youTube tutorials later, I began in earnest once the kids were back at school. I fell off a lot and faced the distressing possibility that I was too old (or just too uncoordinated) to get the hang of the thing. But within a few weeks I was trundling along merrily, my joy exponentially enhanced by its being the realisation of a lifelong ambition.
What I didn’t expect was that it would be so physically and psychologically beneficial. It seems to me to be a discipline very much along the lines of Pilates and Feldenkrais. The abdominal muscles are engaged, the back straight and the hips aligned. It requires fully intuitive and dynamic balance involving every part of the body. Feldenkrais’ method aims to “make the impossible possible, the possible easy, and the easy elegant”: this describes perfectly the business of learning to unicycle and could usefully be adopted as a motto for life. Or, put another way, riding a unicycle is a guide to successful living.