David Blaine: What would you put the water in?
Madonna: A bottle that said “holy water” on it. [both laugh] A scroll of the Old Testament. A chessboard with chess pieces. Something to write with: blank paper and a fountain pen with ink.
David Blaine: What’s the last thing somebody taught you?
Madonna: I learned how to surf this summer. That was really hard. I got up. I rode a wave.
David Blaine: That must be tricky for you, because it’s hard to fail. You’re always seen as success, right?
Madonna: Yeah. But every time I do shows, I learn a new skill. I always have to do something I’ve never done before. Like, last time I went on tour, I had to learn how to slackline, so that was a nightmare, because you keep falling off and you have to keep getting back on, falling off, learning how to balance. That’s really hard.
David Blaine: Is it hard to fail in front of the people you’re working with?
Madonna: I’m not saying I’m great at failing, but if you’re an artist and you’re into the learning process, you accept that you’re going to suck at things. I ride horses, and after not riding for a while, I always say to my riding instructor, “Okay, pretend I’m a beginner. I don’t want to jump. I don’t want to do anything extravagant. I just want to pretend I’m a beginner.” And I don’t judge myself. If I mess up, I’ve already put it out there that I’m going to suck. My kids get me to do a lot of things that I wouldn’t normally do. I surfed because my son kept bugging me. I ski because my kids kept bugging me. And I say, “Well, why not? I’m going to suck at it, so that’s okay.” I’m good with that.
David Blaine: So you’re good at accepting failure and moving past it.
Madonna: In certain areas. [laughs] Failure is a challenge. Failure is an invitation.
David Blaine: Would you say you’re like that with everything?
Madonna: If I connect to it. I don’t love to do everything. Like, I suck as a cook. [laughs] I don’t feel inspired to continue cooking. If I had to for survival, I would.
David Blaine: Do you ever take a no? Does anybody ever say no to you?
Madonna: They do all the time. But, yeah, how are we going to turn the no into a yes, or how am I going to get what I want in spite of the fact that I got a no, or how can I make this no work for me in my favor? Or, okay, I’m going to accept this rejection and I’m going to find another way to do it. I mean, nos are just as valuable as yeses in the game of life. In fact, they’re essential. [turns to her reps in the room] Don’t get any ideas, guys. Voilà.
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