As I try and learn new virtues like patience and letting things go, an old friend has returned to help me along the path.
I have long been in love with the sport of basketball. It’s like an old friend.
When I was a kid, it was the first sport I learned. It also helped keep me off the streets of East Saginaw. Later, it lifted me out of depression after I lost my son to a genetic disorder.
When you’re lucky enough to have a regular pick up game, where you come to know your opponents, it can become like a dance, a revolving flow, where there are brief moments of true joy. It’s as if all is right with the world. You are truly in the moment. Everything seems to fit.
With my new found free time, I once again turned to my old friend to help make me feel whole again, with good reason.
Long periods of idle time cab play havoc with your inner psyche. There are times when you are unemployed where you feel like you no longer matter, that the rest of the world has shunned you, and you’re made to feel like it’s your fault. I know that those are negative emotions conjured up from my imagination. But that doesn’t make them less real at times. The fight is to keep those feelings at bay, to think new positive mantras in their place. But that isn’t always that easy.
So I put my high tops back on, and I found a noon pick up game at my local gym. Basketball has gotten me out of messes before, maybe it could do it again.
The first two days weren’t easy. I was rough and out of basketball shape. My shot was off, and more often blocked back in my face. My back hurt, my knees ached. But I could feel a spark deep down in me, refiring in my soul. This felt right.
After a couple of weeks, I felt the old rhythms returning, the focus, and more importantly, the fleeing of the bad emotions. The zen of basketball is to be in the moment. You cannot be dwelling on anything but the here and now. “Where is the ball? Where is your man?” If you aren’t, the basketball gods will be very cruel.
My experiences have been similar to what my youngest daughter has told me she has learned in her love sport, rock climbing. Clarissa often says she loves the sport because when you’re on that wall, everything else melts away. It has to. If you are not thinking of your next move, you will be off that wall in an instant.
To have a place I can escape to for a couple of days a week, has been a lifeline of sorts to me, and it’s brought an added bonus: new friends. Who knows? Maybe they’ll find a place for me in this messed up new universe that I find myself in.