“The mind that is not baffled is not employed. ” — Wendell Berry
About once a week I coach my Masters swim group. On occasion, I offer stroke tips. It’s a bit cheeky of me because I’m not a technique expert. So I Googled some easy-to-grasp tips, like keeping the elbows high during freestyle, and not over-reaching upon entry — all in order to help the swimmers achieve a very important long-term goal: swim till they’re 100.
The other morning I felt all out of ideas (crazy because there’s no limit!), and gave a short freestyle set of Beautiful Swimming. That was it. Maybe it’s all this Beauty talk that’s going on in the salons, but I had a flash of an idea. I encouraged the swimmers to impersonalize their freestyle form. Instead of thinking about “my beautiful freestyle,” or “how do I get my body moving more fluidly” I asked them to consider something else: the inherent and persistent beauty of the freestyle stroke.
In other words: Imagine that the freestyle’s beauty already exists. Instead of struggling to bring beauty and coherence into your stroke, imagine swimming into the beautiful, coherent stroke that is already there.
You don’t have to be a swimmer to practice this. Imagine the inherently delicious dinner, or the already perfect scarf you’re going to knit, the bodacious run that’s already there, the rich conversation always present. All of these not made by you but already there for you to find your way into them.
I know, this is very conceptual and weird. Shall we continue?
What if you applied this inherent existing beauty to work?
Oh, let’s! I did it just this week with a client who’s disgruntled at work. Many people are disgruntled by their jobs, and baffled by What to Do, and making their bafflement a problem. What if it weren’t? What if the bafflement is a necessary and beautiful part of work, but we’re seeing it all wrong because we’re obsessed with KNOWING?
Imagine the impersonal and even Beautiful nature of this thing we call w-o-r-k. The inherent beauty of a c-a-r-e-e-r or having a job. That all work is beautiful, no matter if you’re driving a garbage truck or choreographing a modern dance. This beauty has nothing to do with you, or me, or those…