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October 23, 2013

The Power of Grace: Poise, Craftsmanship & Patience. ~ Donavan Wilson

Have you ever watched a jaw-dropping performance by an incredible artist or athlete?

Growing up, I idolized NFL wide receiver Lynn Swann. He never defeated his opponents with lighting caliber quickness. Swann would jump up in the air to catch the pass and float pass his rivals. He smoothly defied gravity with the greatest of ease.

Also during my childhood, I witnessed an awe-inspiring performance by the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater on PBS, of their signature work Revelations. The choreography captured my emotions and imagination. The dancers executed each move with so much strength, elegance and style that it still resonates with me so many years later.

What do sports and dance possibly have in common? Both activities require a crazy amount of hard work, sacrifice and dedication. Dancers and athletes are extremely fit and very competitive. People enjoy watching them because of the power of that grace that both dance and sports demand in order to achieve greatness.

Lately, I have been wondering how I can include lessons on grace in my life. Ironically, I am the most awkward and clumsy individual I know.

However, very few people can match my heart and hustle, the relentless drive and determination in my system. Some former mentors have accused me of stubbornness.

I’ve spent a lifetime battling demigods and demons. There have been educators that didn’t think I had the intellectual capacity to finish high school, let alone college. Since I entered the workplace, I have found numerous land mines and obstacles in my way. Some people made the mistake of underestimating my resolve. However, I have always known that I will fight in my sleep in order to fulfil my dreams.

I take this Olympic-caliber effort into every aspect of life, including my yoga practice. For example, I struggle with the posture Marichyasana C. Both my shoulders and hips are very tight, which makes this specific posture very difficult. Thank goodness my yoga teachers have a great deal of compassion and patience: specifically, Jen Rene of the Flow Yoga Center. She sees me struggle and provides the appropriate modifications. After her adjustments I sit there, covered in sweat, feeling frustrated and depleted. This is hardly the behavior of a gentleman. Despite these types of displays, I am fortunate enough to practice there.

While taking a step back, I realize the importance of the practice. Grace truly is the balance of ease and effort. Grace is floating like a butterfly and stinging like a bee. Virtuosos inspire audiences because of their exceptional skill and the power to pour their personalities into each performance. Musicians like Yo Yo Ma really enjoy their job and make it look easy.

The following are just some qualities which are important for forging a more graceful path.

Poise 

No, I have no plans to emulate the dance moves of the beautiful ballerinas in The Washington Ballet. Poise consists of a dignified, self-confident manner, being or composure. The best performers and athletes maintain their confidence regardless of adversities. Ironically, they welcome challenge as an opportunity to test their skills.

Life will test us all regardless of where we stand. Have you ever noticed a professional athlete’s expression or reaction after a loss? Some athletes have the ability to handle their defeat in a very dispassionate way. They must have confidence to let go and move on because the next game is coming soon.

Craftsmanship

Life offers a lot of uncertainty beyond death, taxes and change. Yoga is the art and science of living. Also, the practice is a skill-building exercise. The workplace demands that individuals be willing to extend their expertise.

I admire artists so much because they have mastered an activity that requires great skills. Regardless of how much effort I exert, if I cannot produce worthwhile results I cannot move forward.  My spirit may be willing, but I cannot move forward if my skills are nil. Uncertainty will demand that we have the dexterity to face difficulties.

Patience

As clichéd as this may sound, haste truly makes waste. In rushing because we are managing so many priorities, quality may become compromised.

Grace requires meticulousness and this means that every detail is covered. When this happens, execution will seem effortless.

So, am I still envious of the awe-inspiring performance of athletes and dancers? Of course, but I will not take for granted the sweat and sacrifice behind the scenes. Grace embodies so many wonderful qualities that are worth cultivating. This may take me a lifetime to learn, but in the end it will be worthwhile.

The journey demands striving for something extraordinary.

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