I’ve been doing a lot of reading in 2021 so far. I love reading, and when I’m hurting for inspiration, there’s nothing better than a good book to kick me in the butt.
This month I read Elizabeth Gilbert’s book “Big Magic—Creative Living Beyond Fear.” (You may remember Elizabeth Gilbert from her hit memoir “Eat, Pray, Love”.) In “Big Magic” she talks about having the courage to unearth the treasures that are within us. Each one of us, she says, has the capacity to live a creative life, but we get bogged down with thinking about the outcomes. She suggests that we approach our creations, or our craft (books, paintings, choreography, program, spreadsheets or whatever) with diligence and gratitude because we love it and because we can. Keep your head down and do the work, basically, regardless of the outcome. We are lucky enough to have found our craft, and it is our duty to keep honing it because the world needs to see our individual interpretation of it.
Another book that addresses this is Rob Bell’s “How to Be Here”. Bell talks about finding our purpose and that it’s our duty to approach it as a craft, rather than success, which comes with the pressures of an expected outcome. He says:
throwing yourself into it begins with being grateful that you even have something to throw yourself into…. We surrender the outcomes because we cannot control how people are going to respond to us and our work in the world….The joy come from being fully present in this moment. The reward is in throwing yourself into it right here and now.
I love this. As much as we preach “focus on your own journey” in skating, it’s hard to live that motto when every single outing in our sport is judged, and when social media consistently brags about the achievements of others. By focusing on our gifts and how lucky we are just to be on the ice, we can begin to reframe our relationship with the sport.
P.S. If you're curious and want to read either of these for yourself, visit my bookshop to purchase while supporting local bookstores.
Author // the skating yogi
My name is Sarah Neal. I have been immersed in the world of figure skating for over four decades. I have seen firsthand the abuse that happens at the higher levels of our sport and experienced how that trickles down into unhealthy training practices and habits at the grassroots. I have seen this play out in the operations of the very institutions that control our sport. Whether for a profession or hobby, pursuing skating should be a joyful, rewarding process, an opportunity for athletic and personal growth, and a place to build lasting friendships.