Finding the long line

Well, friends, National Championships didn’t go according to plan. I could make a dozen excuses, though none of which will change the simple fact that I finished off the podium with a disappointing point total.

I feel like a ten year old playing the piano – frustratingly close to realizing a vision.

The ten year old pianist is technically doing everything right – tempo, tone, rhythm, hitting all the right notes in the right order. But there’s something missing.

As Benjamin Zander, the hilariously passionate conductor of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra, might say, the problem lies in that the ten year old is playing with both butt cheeks. She is missing the forest for the trees, missing the music for the notes on the paper. She doesn’t see – or feel – the long line of music tying everything together, creating the deep experience she seeks to create.

It is not until our ten year old learns to play off of one butt cheek, until she learns to truly hear the music and be physically moved by it, that she will achieve the mastery she is searching for. When this happens, in place of a repetitive impulse regimenting the sound there will be but a single impulse on a flowing phrase. The long line, or overarching vision will be apparent, and every single element will work together to express it.

I’m not sure how the equivalent long line sounds in track and field. But if you happen to see me with my head cocked curiously in the breeze, you’ll know why.

Watch Benjamin Zander’s transformative TED talk

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