Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Basketball vs. Life

I love basketball. I love sports in general, but basketball is by far my favorite. Almost nothing makes me happier than playing basketball. I don't care if I'm just shooting hoops by myself or playing in a 5-on-5 game. Basketball elevates my mood more than any antidepressant possibly could.

Do you know what may be the biggest reason I like basketball so much? It's because when you fail, you can always try again. In fact, you get to try as many times as you'd like. Miss a free throw? Just step up to the line, take a deep breath, remember to bend your knees just a little more, and try it again. Can't quite get that between the legs crossover dribble down? You can practice it in your driveway over and over and over and over again until you perfect it. How good you are is only limited by how hard you work.

Even if you do make a mistake that you cannot fix (like if you missed some freethrows that cost your team a championship), you can always console yourself with the thought that it's just a game.

Life isn't the same way. It's not a game. In life, sometimes you make mistakes but never get the opportunity to try again. Life teaches you lessons the hard way. It chews you up, spits you out, and then leaves you to pick up all the pieces. Except after a life lesson, things never go back to the way they were before.

You see... In basketball, the rules don't change. No matter how many times you mess up, the dimensions of the court remain the same, the ball still bounces the same way, and the hoops are still 10 feet tall.

In life, the circumstances can change. People can change. Even you might change. What used to be a great way of doing things can one day turn into the worst possible way. It's so hard to realize when that change occurs though. If I miss a jumpshot in basketball, I can immediately tell you why. Perhaps I didn't get my body squared to the basket. Maybe my elbow flaired out. Maybe I didn't extend my follow through towards the hoop. Maybe I didn't put enough arch on the shot.

In life, you often don't realize you're making mistakes until months or years after. After months or years of reflection, you come to realize the error of your ways. However, by that time, it's too late. You can't go back. You can't fix what you did. You never get the opportunity to make it right. With no other options, you resolve to put that mistake behind you and go on living. For the most part, you're successful in doing so, but there's always that burning, frustrated feeling lurking in the deepest parts of your being that never lets you forget how you screwed up. The feeling never goes away. Instead, you get used to it. You learn to ignore it, which means ignoring part of yourself.

Tomorrow is supposed to be the warmest day of the year so far in my area. I'm looking forward to taking my MP3 player and my ball down to a local basketball court and working on my jumpshot. It's literally the most relaxing and enjoyable thing I can think of. It makes sense to me.


Anonymous said...

glad to have u back mike! you nailed it on the spot about bball.

Anonymous said...

I always enjoy reading your blog. I am a tech in a hospital pharmacy and have always been curious about working retail. Would never in a million years do it, but find it interesting to read about. You like structure and rules and boundaries. Nothing wrong with that. Wish everything functioned like that myself.