Phil left a comment on Andrew's essay To no end save beauty- An Ode to Sport that's really got me thinking. In all the time leading up to the recent Integral Community Seminar, where we were meditating on the subject of collectives here at Beams, no one ever mentioned sports in that discussion. It never occurred to me once, and I'm a big fan. But then Phil went on a lovely riff in the comment section about cooperation and teamwork in sports, and suddenly that context sprang forth. I realized that as so many of us continue to struggle to evolve beyond the hyper-individualism of our post/modern era, we have the immediate example (and for many, experience) in sports of what it's like to work harmoniously with a dynamic collective to accomplish a common goal. And this doesn't necessarily mean the subsuming of the individual by the collective either, a fear for many in this attempt to transcend and include the birth of the individual into a higher we. As Phil coins it, and a fine turn of phrase it is, the individual can be "a solo within a symphony".
A solo within a symphony. I like that. I've been turning it over and over in my head for two days now. A solo in a symphony does not go outside the core musical framework that the collective is engaged in, but nevertheless works some original magic within it, thus (if done well) strengthening the overall composition in return. Could we learn to work this way together more often? The metaphor probably has many more layers than just that one, but I'm finding it provocative and it's working on me.
Phil also mentioned Michael Jordan, and it struck me that he was an exceptional example of this dual-yet-mutual role, a heroically talented and individually creative athlete who also excelled at defense and helped lead his team to six NBA championships. Phil linked to a couple of videos of Jordan, and although I'm of course familiar with Jordan and his astonishing feats, this video below blew me away. But before watching the video, I want to add one other layer of context for the viewing. At the end of his essay, Andrew finishes with these lines:
"Sport is above all the physical expression of the human form and soul, the physical and mental, body and brain coordinated and acting as one. It is in the striving towards perfection, the overcoming, in the triumphs and defeats that the human story is told. But in the end, sport can have no other end save the beauty of the human experience.".
This video is also a remarkable expression of all of that. Truly, a magnificent human solo within a symphony.