Le sport: la perspective artistica
This may or may not come as a surprise: but I got my degree in the arts.
Foreign language, to specify.
Spanish and French to be even more specific.
So, while I chase after my paralympic dreams in an effort to prevent my brain from completely turning into jelly I do my best to keep up my language proficiency.
This month I am reading the 20th century Argentine classic, El Tunel. I read an excerpt in there which basically confirmed my life has taken a true (artistic) transition into sport.
Brief synopsis of the situation in the story as of now: The protagonist is a painter in the ’20s on Buenos Aires. He is a total nut case and has an internal dialogue that figures out that even though he is an artist, he basically NEVER goes into any art galleries. He starts listing the reason why he can’t go in and look at anyone’s work (especially his own) in a gallery and then continues with-
“Pero tengo otra razón: LOS CRíTICOS. Es una plaga que nunca pude entender. Si you fuera un gran cirujano y un señor que jamás ha maneja un bisturí, ni es médico ni ha entablillado la pata de un gato, viniera a explicarme los errores di mi operación, ¿qué se pensaría? Lo mismo pasa con la pintura. Lo singular es que la gente no advierte que es lo mismo y aunque se río las pretensiones del crítica cirugía, escucha con un increíble respeto los juicios de un crítico que alguna vez haya pintado, aunque más fuera que telas mediocres. Pero aun en ese caso sería absurdo, pues ¿cómo puede enconcontrarse razonable que un pintor medicore dé consejos a uno bueno?”
This is going to be the Lacey-approach to translating this except so that it makes sense:
“But I have another reason: THE CRITICS. It’s a plague that I could never understand. If I was a great surgeon and a man that had never handled a scalpel, nor is a doctor, nor had even splinted a cat’s leg, came to explain to me everything I did wrong in surgery. What would I think? The same goes with painting. The main thing is that no one warns you that’s the same thing and even though one would laugh at the claims of a “surgical critic,” they listen with an incredible amount of respect of the rights of the critic that had maybe painted one time, and it was maybe a okay piece. But in this case it would be absurd, how can you find a mediocre painter’s advice reasonable to that of a good one?”
(Let me take this moment to have a silent celebration- I can feel the pride and joy beaming from past professors in this language translation)
After reading this excerpt I had a few epiphanies:
The world of sports and that of art are strikingly similar. Some of the main points is that both sides traditionally view success based off of performance.
In a perfect world, we would be judged off of our intentions. But that’s not the case. We are only criticized for our actions and the final product. It’s only our wish to be able to explain the initial intention or the overall effort.
Hearing the hard truth can really suck and hurt. Especially if you hear the truth about yourself. Even more so in your performance. Your performance is your final product; the very reflection of yourself.
We can only improve once we open up ourselves. And usually you need to not only HEAR but LISTEN from enough sources until you make the conscious effort to change things. Those changes are what brings incredible, historical work to life. And that is super awesome.
The fact that both disciplines can affect the entire world on so many different platforms is truly something remarkable. They transcend societal barriers including language, socioeconomic boundaries and even invoke profound emotional responses.
It’s easy to be a critic and look for meaning on the outside. But the truth about criticism is that it is essentially reflected on what we know in the deepest, darkest corners of ourselves (and probably all of the parts of us that need to be worked on) The incredible fact about both worlds is that at an elite and professional level, they force us to look on the inside. We spend way too much time and energy wanting to be understood by others that we forget to be understanding. Not only to others, but especially to ourselves.
In both viewpoints, anything we value in our work(/sport) we are always looking for ways to make it better. To improve. To run faster. To make more profound. In my professional life in sports I am very unwelcome to free compliments. I know many of my friends in the arts who feel the same way about their work. We work so hard specializing one part of our lives that we always see room for improvements and are never satisfied with the final products. Just like a writing professor once told me: “There is no such thing as the perfect draft.”
The same goes for sports. There is no such thing as the perfect race. The perfect jump.
My brain is basically exploding.
So, just like every other aspect in the planet there needs to be balance. As serious as we are in our work, and as much as we feed off of criticism we also need an equal amount of validation. Honestly, for me my validation comes from all of the personal relationships in my life. Some people are completely opposite and seek for validation in their careers. Neither are wrong, but they need to be equal in order for harmony and success in your chosen discipline.
I feel like there is tension between the two worlds. My artistic friends don’t understand my sport life, and my sport friends don’t understand my artistic life. I find it ironic, because both sides views the other as uninteresting or even useless. And frankly, I agree on the useless part. It doesn’t advance humanity in the way that health and technology do. The funny thing is the very fact that they are both the least productive parts to the advancement of the world, they are the VERY THINGS that make us the most human. It’s really beautifully poetic and ironic at the same time.
So, if our final product is based off of performance, what is the root of even attempting to work on masterpieces like an Olympic event, or a sculpture?
I believe it’s passion. Passion is the only material inside of both worlds, in all aspects of life that validate our efforts to try anything. Passion is the unmeasurable and heaviest part inside of us that is what creates history. It changes the world.
Success in each discipline can be looked at in such a subjective manner. The biggest point, and most recent thought given to me is this: instead of focusing on the standard, focus on the process. Some of our greatest achievements came from raw, unapologetic, hard working effort. That which can never be compromised.
No matter which way you look at it or how the light reflects it; between running or jumping or music or painting, it’s all a work of art.
Keep working on your piece of art, no matter what it is. Eventually you will create your own earth shattering work.
I’ll end with a somewhat unrelated, but amazing quote I think of regularly when I’m busy working on myself as an athlete, my art:
“A masterpiece is still a masterpiece when the lights are turned off and when no one is looking.”