(Note: this post was originally posted Sept, 2011. I'm reposting it because I want to.)

My favorite word is Grace.

It means so many wonderful things. It can mean forgiveness. It can mean beauty. It can mean goodwill. For those who believe in the divine, grace can also be the blessing of God. But there's an element to the word that strikes a chord within me; which makes me shudder and sometimes even cry at the sheer beauty of the meaning of the word. It also happens to be my favorite Jeff Buckley song.

Grace is a presence; an elegance. It's a manner of being which shines when the chips are down and life is its most difficult. It's the way you hold yourself and speak and act when you're no longer paying attention to how you're holding yourself, speaking and acting.

It shows up in sports all the time. It's actually the reason I love hockey so much -- when you watch a hockey game, you're watching athletes at their absolute prime, performing moves on ice that most people can't perform on dry ground, with a stick on a puck three inches in diameter, against equally skilled players doing the exact same thing. There are moments in every hockey game where I marvel at what the human body is capable of.

And when the game wears on and the body wears down, you begin seeing some real magic. The 3rd period in hockey. The fourth quarter in football. The moments where every practice and every drill for months on end become instinct and the body simply acts at the peak of its ability, and an athlete's grace is on display.

It also shows up in art, when the mind is no longer focused on mechanics and the beauty is allowed to flow. Painting, dancing, music... Art begins to show when the mind is turned off and the hours and weeks and months and years of practice and rudiments and exercises and sketches and writing begin showing their importance. The body becomes graceful and the soul begins to speak through instinct.

The same goes in life. When you're at your most exhausted is where the real magic shows up. When you've pulled your seventh all nighter in a week and you're now no longer thinking through code or presentation briefs or client requirements or the ghost of your art teacher explaining how you're doing everything wrong, and you let go and your instincts show up and take over.

Art is grace. Presence of mind is grace. Confidence is grace. Live your life with grace.

Grace is not mechanics. Grace is not perfection. Grace is actually imperfection; the human aspects of creation and existence made manifest in moments that show who you are, not who you have been. And we all know there is a gracefulness in painting and drawing and dancing and music, as well as in beautiful athletic endeavors and well prepared speeches.  But grace is also in our work and our speech and our actions day in and day out, and especially in the hidden moments where our lives are most strained. When you're tired and beaten and bruised and you're worn down, your character shows up and you show the world and yourself just what you're made of. And if you're a pessimist, you'll succumb to defeat. Hell, you'll welcome it. If you're lazy, you'll fall down fast. If you never explore and research, you won't have the presence of mind to come up with answers and solutions. You will be without grace, and you will receive none.

That which you do most, and most often, is what will show up when the cards are down and you're facing a fourth quarter situation in life. Live the rest of your life like you're practicing for that moment. Show up, do good work, think, read books, exercise that mind of yours. Work out and run and keep your body in shape. Speak with eloquence like the words you say matter. Keep your head up and look forward, never down. Walk with purpose. Love yourself.

Have Grace.

Because when the shit goes down and you're no longer capable of thinking about how to handle it all... You'll handle it.