90 was the goal to break a record.
The goal was so big in the beginning, I didn’t think it was possible, but at some point I realized I was half way there, and so they called it a streak and people started talking about it. The more I heard about it, the less I could talk about it. Not even my wife would mention it to me. And so it was, the thing that could not be named. Superstitious? Maybe just a tad, but I didn’t want to make too big of a deal about it, because to me, my challenge was and still is, in perfecting my shot. Somewhere along the way, over the last few years, I’ve begun to hone in on the finer mechanics of my shot. Tiny details that most people might not ever notice, but I have learned to notice from the inside. I’ve developed body awareness, wherein I can feel if my elbow is a few degrees out or my shoulder is too tense, if my left foot is turned too far inward or my knee is weak on the outside. The attention to these details, is what kept me going. I did not focus on “90”. I focused on my form every time I shot. Whether it’s a 100 3’s in practice, warm ups before a game, or a third quarter catch and shoot, there’s a pattern that I m now locked into, because of the attention to detail and physical awareness I’ve been working on. Developing body awareness, or any form of awareness isn’t for the faint of heart. It requires a great deal of time to understand your own cause and effect pattern and also commitment, to work through what’s off, or misaligned.
‘Tis the season of resolutions. Many of us have a goal or a dream that we can imagine perfectly, but have yet to achieve. It is so easy in the beginning to figure out what we need to do to get there, pledge our allegiance to the plan and set our eyes on the other side of our situation. I need to start running this afternoon, or saving half my paycheck on Friday, while doubling up on principal payments, or enrolling in night school, etc. We make incredible promises with potential in hand, but eventually, somewhere between where we are now and where we want to be, we lose the plot. Maybe we didn’t start well or at all; maybe our goal was too lofty and we lost heart early on, or maybe it’s just the grind of the middle. Where the highs are plateaus, our big dreams’ fairy dust has worn off and sometimes you cannot remember why you started. It’s easy to lose focus, when the glory of the goal fades into a muddle of details. Old habits die hard, ask the Rolling Stones. At least there’s comfort in the same old routine. Instead of pushing forward, we look back and forget what we were reaching for.
We are imperfect people, living imperfect lives and making millions of choices. Sometimes we think about these choices and sometimes there isn’t time to think. Some times we just react. Basketball has taught me that my reactions are often decided by my habits. But these habits, which often govern our reactions, can be altered. We have the opportunity to choose, create, edit or delete our habits. One conscious choice after another, is one step in the right direction. Even if we sometimes take two steps back. One day at a time. For me, its attention to detail that gets me through the middle. I work on one detail at a time, to perfect it, until it becomes second nature. Then I don’t have to think about it. About the time I master that part, I become aware of the next detail that needs to be adjusted. If I were to focus on my long term goal, I would never get there. But I have this step, this shot, this stroke and this thought that is either pushing me forward or holding me back.
We have all made a fair share of resolutions that didn’t make it past the first week of January in years gone by. Makes me wonder if maybe our process is a bit misguided. As we think about what we want to change in this upcoming year, I wonder if we can redefine “resolution” from a firm decision to do or not do something to I don’t expect to be perfect, but I expect to try; to give a real effort and have lots of grace for the process. Can you commit to that? This attitude can move you in the right direction. Recalibrate you to north. It grants me the ability to pay attention to the details that make up my situation, figure out half steps and work to make all these things right in time, with grace for the now and determination in the unknown . What if our resolution wasn’t the lbs. Or the cash. Or the early wake-up calls. What if it was just to make a healthy habit. To keep that habit going for as long as you can. To stick with it, knowing that one day, you are going to miss the mark, but it is ok! This game of life involves grace… so wake up the next day and start again. Try to last a little longer this time. Beat your record. Expect yourself to try. As long as we try, grace will apply.
Coach Bud talks to our basketball team about cycles. Transition defense to getting the defensive rebound to playing with pace and getting a good shot. He preaches that the good teams, the consistent teams are the teams who can keep the cycles going the longest. Cycles cannot depend strictly on effort, because sometimes you get tired. They cannot depend solely on talent, because sometimes you have off nights, where nothing goes in. Cycles depend on habits. The kind you get from focused efforts. The kind you create in the middle. Practice. Repetition. Awareness. These are the things that we can control.
90 games was so long. Over that stretch I had a daughter, she turned one. We moved three times. Friends passed away. Brothers got married. There were so many details and so many moments. The goal was somewhere in the background, while all of this life happened in the glorious in between. In the end, 90 wasn’t the goal. Perfecting the process is greater than perfecting the product. I still miss shots. You will too. Records are made to be broken. The reward is seeing what you’ve got deep down. What you are made of. What you’re capable of. The reward is discovering this part of your self that had been missing for a while. The part that can, the part that did.