Wednesday, December 17, 2008

When Grace is the Comfortable Norm

Welcome, beautiful traveler. I greet you with a recommendation, if you find motivation or purpose elusive.

In most large cities, you should be able to call the local ice-skating rink and find out when they have classes and what level of skaters they teach. (Don't worry; I'm not going to recommend skating lessons.) Consider taking a trip down to the rink the next time a high-level class is scheduled, and simply go in and have a seat in the observation area.

You might even have luck just going in during open skating and looking amongst the crowds of skaters for the small number of really proficient ones.

What I want you to look for, and pay attention to, is an excellent skater who is not actively practicing.

A true talent who is just standing around. Perhaps chatting with a friend.

The reason I want you to look for this, and watch it closely if you find it, is simple: it will show you how the pursuit of art changes you.

Whether one likes figure-skating or not, it's an impressive art form that requires extraordinary discipline as well as natural ability. These facts are obvious to us when we see the elaborate routines that good skaters develop and perform.

But what is less obvious is that even when not performing, a truly exceptional skater is something beyond ordinary. The typical person at the rink, whether in motion or still, remains not quite in his or her element. Even people who skate well have a bit of tension, a bit of caution in their posture, when not actively skating. They may be comfortable, even relaxed -- but they will not appear quite as comfortable or relaxed as they would be standing flat on solid ground.

A remarkable skater, though, is different.

A remarkable skater, one who has lived and breathed skating for years, appears just as much at ease on the ice as off -- perhaps even more so. They can be fully preoccupied with something else -- a conversation, or paying attention to a trainer or coach -- and still exhibit complete and effortless grace in their posture and movement.

They have become creatures at home in a strange realm, and this transformation has left them unable to appear clumsy or out-of-balance unless they deliberately attempt something beyond their skill.

In pursuing the ability to create beauty, they have themselves become reflexively beautiful.

And this is where effort takes us, when we aspire to make ourselves capable of beauty: to the place where grace needs no conscious thought.

Of course, if you're already a champion figure-skater and still find motivation and purpose elusive, I guess this post is pretty useless to you.

Thank you, goddess of love, for all those who have in some way made greater beings of themselves.

Lovingly yours,

A devotee

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