The beauty of excellence is in the heart of the game.
It is in the love of the sport and the practice of the craft. It is in the honoring of each player - both those on your own team and those you play against. It is the synergy of the group dynamic creating a dance on the field that can only come about through a deep commitment from each individual player to the whole. It is the desire to win, not just for the recognition and validation from outside but for the true internal knowing that you did your best. That you followed through. That you reached high and that your goal was not out of reach because you dug deep and found the true essence of what it means to be your best self.
This is what I was going to write about, as I was thinking about my writing for today, but what kept coming up for me was dancing. Maybe because the beauty of an exceptional sports team is the lyrical dance that unfolds on the field. Or maybe because excellence, for me, is a dance. Whether I am dancing or not.
Let's start with dancing.
I studied ballet for many years. Very seriously. Like I was thinking that maybe I would be a ballerina. I studied and then I didn't for a while. And then in college I transferred to NYU Tisch School of the Arts, for dance, and considered it again. And then not again. Back and forth like that for a while, knowing that I probably was not going to be a professional dancer but still dancing in the idea of it until I was sure that I was done.
And still I dance. More so recently with a new dance studio that opened in my town where I get my ballet fix with a weekly ballet barre class and have jumped - quite awkwardly - into learning how to tap dance. For me, the ballet skills transfer well to modern/contemporary I think because the lyrical movement and flow matches, though my contemporary moves are ballet driven and my arms are true to form. But tap....
Ah, this is tough.
This is new and difficult and my pulled in and pulled up and reaching high and holding straight and pointing feet ballet body does not quite mesh with the earthly grounding in that tap calls for. My ankles do not easily loosen up, my posture seems too tight and my legs insist on turning out. I am a ballet dancing tap dancer. (If you ask my husband and children they will tell you that I am a ballet dancing runner and tennis player also. My race around a track always ends in a grand jeté and my backhand usually turns into a pirouette)
But this is not the point (haha, like pointing my feet or dancing on point...get it...ok so not so funny). Because for me, what is important is not the perfection of the dance, but the journey of the dance. The excellence is in the movement. It is in the motion of my body and the fluid grace of my soul that gets to experience the ride that I chose to travel on each time I move my feet, whether intuitively during a ballet combination or with solid focus and determination as I learn how to tap my feet on the smooth wooden floor.
The excellence lies in the rhythm and flow.
It lies in the wonder of what I discover I can do while I am honoring what I already have accomplished. It lies in the understanding that I may not be "as good as I was" but that I am as great as I am in the moment that I am enjoying something as simple as the line of my arm or the extension of my leg as it reaches up and away from my body.
And this excellence, it extends outward even past my extension to the me that is dancing through life. And though, in truth, it has taken me quite a while to see this clearly, the rhythm and flow of life - the highs and lows, struggles and successes, teaching and unlearnings, peaceful awakenings and dances of despair - they are all the signs of excellence, too. For just like the my dancing body or the sweet synergy that is a well rehearsed and high performance sports team, the life process we are all on is the purest opportunity to be our best selves.
To not quit. To reach high. To learn and grow and become the greatness that we often forget that we already are.
The beauty of this game last night - this amazing super bowl win for the Patriots - is just this. The team did not forget that they are great. And so all they had to do was ground into the belief of that and there they were.
Imagine who we could be if we can remember this as we dance on our own life's playing field.