Friday, August 03, 2012

The Beauty of Discipline

Our family has been catching as much of the Olympics as time and our awful television reception will allow. Actually it's been coming in better than I anticipated, though we've had some fun moments of needing to stand (yes, stand) in a very specific place to the left of the t.v. set in order to improve reception! The sweet girl and I have been experimenting with occasional movement to see if that helps. We call it our Olympic dance.

I've been really struck by something during these games in London, and that is the beauty of discipline. There is something truly lovely, sometimes even awe-inspiring, about seeing someone do so well at something that takes a great deal of skill, practice, and dedication. Watching Kenya's Tiruenesh Dibaba win the women's 10,000 meter race this afternoon, with such grace, poise, and joy, I found myself in tears -- and thinking of Eric Liddell's phrase "When I run, I feel his pleasure."

Watching a great athlete perform with tremendous skill reminds me of those moments I have sometimes as a reader or listener. When you read a beautiful stanza of poetry or elegantly crafted passage of prose, when you hear a motif in a piece of music that pulls through your heart like a bow gently pulled across violin strings, there is something wondrous about it. Sometimes those moments happen when we're experiencing tried and true classics, but other times they sneak up on us suddenly -- in the middle of just a solidly crafted piece of work. I had it happen to me the other day when reading the detective novelist P.D. James. I waded into a descriptive paragraph and by the time I got the end of it, I was just filled with delight that someone had crafted words that carefully and well.

As I writer, I've not had many moments like this -- but there have been a few. And I'm convinced that those moments happen more frequently when I am in the most disciplined seasons of crafting. Talent matters in all sorts of endeavors -- from running to writing to making music -- but the discipline of working at a skill day after day after day eventually pays off. And so does the ability to abandon oneself to the sheer joy of doing something well, even if (on any given, particular day) we don't win a gold medal."When I write, I feel his pleasure." Those are the most golden days of all.

No comments: