I don't know about you but I find pace lines very zen.
There I am, skating along at a good clip, wind gently cooling the sweat from my brow, free from the need to make direction and speed decisions. My view is tunneled to up and down the line, occasionally having a brief encounter with a set of shoulder blades with an amusing nom de guerre written across them as they zip in front of me. Round and round the track... going with the flow... it almost puts me in a trance.
I noticing my skates going back and forth. Back and forth. Just noticing. No need to attach myself to any particular step or push. Just back and forth. Letting go...
I'm pretty sure this revelation would piss off some of my coaches. I mean, being in a pace line isn't just about one or two skaters making their way up and down the line, weaving, hitting, pushing, whipping or whatever is the move of the moment, it's also about learning to vary your speed to keep an even spacing between yourself and the person in front of you and to sharpen your awareness of players speeding up to cut around you. I'm supposed to be paying attention.
Back and forth, keep skating, back and forth...
Still, most of the action on a pace line is focused on the player going through, while the role of place keeper in the pace line is relatively, especially considering the usual sadistic nature of derby practice, undemanding. In fact, with only one notable exception being the indomitable Tye Die, who believes that pace lines should jump, spin and do the hokey freakin' pokey, I have never had anything more demanded of me than to touch the girl in front of me. If you have monkey arms like me, it's a good time to zone out.
Back and forth...
If it wasn't for the pesky fact that eventually I end up at one end of the line or the other and am forced to do something about it (weave, hit, push, whip, and so on), I think I could sink quite deeply into a meditative state. I think that if I could skate a pace line twice a day for a twenty minutes stretch each I could reduce the stress in my life. I would, actually, go as far as to suggest that if I could extend those twice daily meditations by several hours I'd have a good shot at enlightenment.
I could ride the pace line all the way to Buddha-hood.
One note of disclaimer: this pace line zen only works when skating with experienced skaters. Generally, the better the player, the deeper the meditation. When skating in a pace line with novices, if one does not pay attention, one can oneself skidding face down across the floor into the boards, wheel locked with a profusely apologizing freshie. Facial contusions and a broken ankle can perhaps be a spiritual experience, in a serious asectic manner rather trying to find your happy Buddha nature.
I am more of a middle track kind of gal.