What is the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen? Was it a landscape? A place? A person? A dance or movement?
How about the most captivating thing you’ve ever heard? Was it a song? A voice? Something from the natural world?
We experience the aesthetics of the five senses each day in a thousand ways: a perfectly crafted meal, an evocative painting, our favorite perfume, a supportive mattress, a friend calling out our name. How special it can be to acknowledge the things which are beautiful, artistic, and perfect! It’s no wonder this inclination follows us into our athletic endeavors, too.
At first consideration, the aesthetics of sport may seem predominantly visual. Dancers, gymnasts, and skaters are expert visual aesthetes – their movement is artfully considered and crafted to please the eye of an observer. In sports like these, competitions are commonly judged by quality of visual appeal.
How many dancers, however, love to dance because of the way it looks? What do most people love about their sport and movement practice?
When it comes down to it, we love what we do because of how it feels. This is the aesthetics of our proprioceptive sense; the aesthetics of movement.
For me, rock climbing is the perfect practice in movement aesthetics. The subtleties involved in uncovering the optimal balance point on my way up the rock are largely unobservable from a third-person perspective, and it is often quite boring to watch.
And yet the sensation of perfect balance on near-invisible features is a highly aesthetic experience. To feel that sense of harmony with my whole self and with the rock, to access an improbable sense of weightlessness – this is what brings me back to the sport time and time again. It just feels beautiful.
This week, take some time to reflect on the movement aesthetics of your favorite sport or practice. When does it feel most beautiful? Bring your whole self to that very moment, and enjoy :)