Friday, July 13, 2012

playing for pleasure

"When people ask me how they should approach performance, I always tell them that the professional musician should aspire to the state of the beginner.  In order to become a professional, you need to go through years of training. You get criticized by all your teachers , and you worry about all the critics. You are constantly being judged. But if you get onstage and all you think about is what the critics are going to say, if all you are doing is worrying, then you will play terribly.  ...Instead, one needs to constantly remind oneself to play with the abandon of the child... because why is that child playing?  He is playing for pleasure.  He is playing because making this sound, expressing this melody, makes him happy.  That is still the the only good reason to play."  Yo-Yo Ma

I'm reading a book called IMAGINE by Jonah Lehrer.  It's stellar.  Two minutes into the book and I was completely inspired again.  Yes, a month or more of inability to write has been forgotten.  I now have too many ideas to work with.

I'm on the Outer Banks of NC on vacation with my children.  I've been struggling with some kind of summer virus, so the bulk of my vacation has been spent either in bed napping, or in a beach chair stretched out with my toes buried in the amber grains of sand.  The grit that works into my skin is warm and soothing, and the strum of the ocean lulls me into a relaxed state.  The skies to the North and South of us have been grim, lined with black clouds, but so far little has impaired our ability to have fun.

I'm almost not worrying about the missed training runs at this point.  Almost.  Because I have to imagine that 3 or 4 missed runs in July aren't going to be the end all of my running career.  Maybe they'll prove to be the end all of my 2012 season, but I highly doubt it.

While I was sitting in my chair watching my children play, I happened across the passage in my book that talks about letting go and playing with the abandon and joy of a child.  B'nut was running into the surf as it retreated, and then, with a squeal of glee, she would turn and race the churning wall of foaming white water that charged up the beach toward her.  

I mused aloud that she is a very fast little runner.  

And that she wasn't worried about getting caught by the water.  

She never looked back at the roar bearing down on her, keeping her rich brown eyes skyward as she trailed peals of laughter behind her.

Keep in mind, B'nut getting caught by the water at a strategically bad moment would probably result in my dropping everything and sprinting to the ocean to right her before the water pounded a sense of fear into her.  But maybe not.  She's a pretty sturdy child. 

Regardless, she was fast enough to avoid the wrath of the Atlantic yesterday.

Her sense of joy and abandon is probably what makes her fast.  She runs with perfect form.  Arms swinging, relaxed shoulders, mid to fore foot strike, lightly springing along with a quick cadence.  Perhaps to become a better runner, I should strive to run like my child, for the joy of running, rather than the results.

In doing so, I suspect I would become a far better runner.  After all, if I raced the ocean without fear, I surely would beat it every time, just as she did.


Alex said...

Great post! =)

Pam said...


Lore B said...

I live on the OBX! I'm a way beginner runner (just 2 5Ks under my belt) but I really enjoy your blog.

bobbi said...

Love this post. And so so glad you are having a good vacay with your kids :)

And yeah - need to find that "run with abandon" again...that joy...

Anonymous said...

I've recently had a lesson in finding the joy in running again - thanks to my husband who never seems to lose it. I think it is an important element to remember. After all, if running isn't fun, why do it?