As the Olympics draws to a close I can’t help thinking about the joy and pride we’ve seen on the athletes’ faces after years of preparation and training pays off. As I thought about it I realised that artists come up with exactly those emotions.
Ok, we don’t know the sublime joy of winning a gold medal in front of millions, but we certainly know about dedication – years of building skills, practising, trying again and again when a piece just doesn’t go right. The feeling when you’ve kept at it and finally it does come out even better than you thought it would… there’s a pride and a joy in that moment, knowing that you could have given up when the going got tough but you pushed yourself to keep on going.
It’s not just established artists who experience these Olympic moments. One of the comments I hear so often when I’m teaching beginners is “Can’t I just call it finished?” (This is code for “I’m not happy with it but I don’t know what to do to improve it.”) My answer is always “Well you could, but then you’ll always feel slightly dissatisfied with it. Why don’t we carry on for a bit and make it in to something you’ll always be proud of?” One of my favourite moments in a class was when one of my students’ “Can’t I just call it finished?” became “Wow! I’d never have thought I could do that!”
In the wise words of our final 2012 medallist, Sam Murray, “Honestly, if you have a goal – if there’s anything you want to achieve in life – don’t let anybody get in your way. You can do it. If I can do it, and I’m a normal girl, anyone can do what they want to do.” That applies to art just as much as the modern pentathlon.
So next time you’re contemplating giving up, remember the dedication we’ve seen from the athletes. Instead of conceding defeat, how about giving yourself an Olympic moment?