Friday, June 11, 2010

What about When Life Serves up a Sandwich of Sprezzatura, Playing it Safe and Falling into Grace?

"A child loves his play, not because it's easy but because it's hard."--pediatrician Benjamin Spock

"Man is most nearly himself when he achieves the seriousness of a child at play."--Greek philosopher Heraclitus

Okay, so just let's imagine a sandwich made of sprezzatura, playing it safe, and falling into grace. And you may wonder about those ingredients, so I will tell you about them.

Sprezzatura (what a marvelous word!) is a certain nonchalance and ease in artistic performance, something that looks effortless but is the result of practice. Artistic performance in this case means not only singing or painting or dancing, but life itself. By the time a person reaches 60 and better, sprezzatura is certainly blooming. Could be it's related to the force of character, developed over decades, or you might think of it as the accumulated wisdom of lived experience. But if sprezzatura is still in the wings, it is probably because of playing it safe, which is hiding right in the middle of the sandwich.

As life coach and author Barbara Sher notes “When you play it too safe, you're taking the biggest risk of your life. Time is the only wealth we're given.” But tell that to the lizard brain when it is freaking out about new challenges, or fearfully reacting to your commitment to go deeper into profound, mythic layers of yourself and your gifts. No, no, no! the lizard brain is screaming. Don't! It's dangerous! Awfully, terribly dangerous. You will be ignored, ridiculed, upbraided, criticized and ground into the very dust if you go there! Play it safe, please!

What about if you manage to emerge to the other side of the sandwich and fall into a state of grace? It can happen. It does happen. In the state of grace, we feel renewed, sanctified, consecrated, embraced and supported by divine influence.

Now you may think this is a weird sandwich, one that will never make it to Luigi's Bistro. But it happens to be a sandwich I have been engaged in learning from. In the process, I have been contemplating what it is that brings me to those moments when I fall into a state of grace. Here's what I have discovered so far. Some things are reliable such as meditating, praying, stillness, singing, poetry and sex. Then there are the fugitive and surprising ways I find myself falling into grace hearing the wind harp, dancing, experiencing a certain architecture or music, a face.

I'm preparing to do a solo performance (sprezzatura!) at the end of June, and this sandwich is part of my rehearsal. Just saying. Grin.

And here we are, June 11th, and still not a day warm enough to go swimming at the hot springs! Ah...what kind of sandwiches are you concocting these days?

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