Life Experience on the String

Light. That’s the first thing I notice while on stage, since it shades the crowd in front of me just enough so that I can’t put faces to the voices I hear in the back of the auditorium. Heat. The second observation that crosses my mind is that it’s too hot. Nobody reminded the sun that it was the first day in California for this Bostonian. Tightness. The last thing I notice before I begin is that the string around my finger is taut, suffocating the end of my middle finger. There’s no time for correction, however. It’s almost time. ”Davis, are you ready?” the MC asks. Of course, I think to myself, but my nervous excitement only permits the use of a thumb to convey my reaction. “Ladies and Gentlemen, Davis Keene!” Heart racing, I spin the yo-yo from my finger, and begin my first performance at the National Yo-Yo Competition. Yo-yoing is an activity that aligns itself with two of my values: ingenuity and making an impact on the community.

At a fundamental level, players are scored depending on the uniqueness and difficulty of the tricks they make. Knot theorists would be amazed by the number of directions a yo-yo can pass through and around the same piece of string, only to return to the player’s hand. What was once a hunting weapon in Ancient Greece becomes a form of self-expression before the audience’s eyes. Yo-yos quickly went from ten dollar toys with fixed axles to yo-yos that cost hundreds of dollars. Plastic, metal, and wooden materials dominate today’s yo-yo design, and all are fully capable of spinning for several minutes at a time. Yo-yoing has been transformed from a small hobby into a global sport with an immeasurable number of tricks and playing styles. A whole culture of contests, performances, and clubs was rapidly created around a toy. But of course, it’s just a toy. In the same way, music is just vibrating air.

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Shakespeare is just a man who dabbled in writing. Robots are just wires and circuits. Whether I’m on vacation, waiting at school in between classes or standing stationary in the center of my bedroom, yo-yoing provides a unique form of liberation, a momentary lull in the chaos of life. It’s my daily meditation, and a way of challenging myself as I try to invent tricks that have never been thought of before. The community I found through competing and the experiences that I’ve had traveling across the globe for yo-yoing have helped me imagine endless possibilities in a way that only a toy could. I’d like to think that I owe my identity to yo-yoing, but it’s equally as likely that my persona is what drew me to yo-yoing in the first place. When I was younger, I wanted to find an outlet for my imagination that would remedy an insatiable boredom, and through yo-yoing, I was able to do just that. Throughout high school, I’ve added new ways to express my creativity through robotics, programming, and tutoring.

Today, yo-yos are ingrained in all aspects of my life at home. Everyone in my town who isn’t one of my close friends knows me as the “yo-yo kid.” By creating and selling my own line of competitive yo-yos to meet the growing needs of the yo-yo community, I have gained experience as an entrepreneur. Additionally, yo-yos have fostered my love of travel and competition and have introduced me to experiences I could have never imagined otherwise. Yo-yoing allows me to tie all of the things that I am around my finger by combining all of my best attributes into a creative performance of my own design. Against the backdrop of a brightly lit stage, yo-yoing is a compass that directs me to my future and encourages me to face new challenges on the stage, in the classroom and in my community.

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Life Experience on the String. (2022, Feb 01). Retrieved from