by Joanne Jolee
Equal to my passion for music is gymnastics and I have the fondest memories competing on my high school gymnastics team – way back when the highest level of difficulty for a women was a back somersault on the beam!
But the active life of a gymnast is very short, and I’m glad I continued to pursue music because here I am decades later continuing to improve and develop my skills as a pianist – which I like to think of as finger gymnastics!
So, when I perform, in music and in life, I channel my inner champion. There I am at the mat ready to take my first tumbling run…. months of work spent perfecting the routine ….poised and focused….pouring every ounce of myself into each move …. reaching a successful finale….throwing my head back in exhilaration – that’s how it feels.
This week while watching the Olympic Gymnastics, I saw a woman on the beam lose her balance and fall off during a relatively simple turn. The cameras swooped in immediately after to catch the agony of defeat close up. She admitted that she had become complacent during the easier moments of her routine – a deadly thing to do because when you let down your guard you risk a disappointing loss. That’s how it is in life.
I saw another woman on the parallel bars. She made a significant error to which the commentator noted she had a habit of changing her routines at the last minute. Changes in any complex routine must be incorporated long before a high pressure performance. You must rehearse, then rest for a time and absorb – and then rehearse more. It takes time for changes to solidify and become part of the memory that we depend on when we are under pressure. That’s how it is in life too.
Then sometimes it all just goes horribly wrong – like the men’s all-around routines. One mistake occurred after the other until there was no possibility of a place on the podium. Now, like the champions they are, they will pull themselves together, put it all behind them, strengthen themselves and move on to the next win. That’s also life.