Tuesday, September 23, 2014

AS A MARK THINKETH (a VERY long entry..!)


Post holiday/vacay hangover was very brief.  Had a staff meeting on Saturday at 6 AM.  The biggest surprise was that the manager who called the meeting DID NOT SHOW UP.  The club president/general manager (I am not sure of his official title) WAS THERE, as was all expected employees.  This was preceded by a NO CALL/NO SHOW on Friday!! Needless to say, the plot thickens..!

One of the things that I have been coming to grips with is having validated my faith in myself.  It has, not for one moment since I accepted my diagnosis and the subsequent end to my relationship with Mookie Dee, that what I was going to set out to do was ill-advised at best, and should NOT be undertaken.  Were you to go to a medical professional and tell them that a medically diagnosed CTE patient was going to go live on his own, in a strange city, with no family or friends* in the immediate vicinity, I am sure that they would scoff at the possibility.  But here I am, doing my thing, going to school AND managing my life all on my own.  Which makes what Ken and Beth did for me all the more meaningful.

My Dad was happy to see me.  I have no doubt that he appreciated that I came home to see him and was able to bring people who care about me in tow.  From the experience of being a parent, I have a greater understanding of what it means to watch your children go off into the world, and I have no doubt that it is a concern that will never leave a parent.  So to see that his disabled oldest son is still doing his thing and doing it at the level that I am, well, he had to feel good about that.  I was glad that I was able to give that to him, and I feel so grateful to the Riches for giving me the opportunity to  give that to my Father.


One of the things I have wondered about is the difference between me and the cats like Michael Jordan… and by “difference”, I mean what is it that makes people continue to strive and become surpassing of their own expectations and dreams.  The reason I use Michael Jordan is that his competitiveness is legendary and seemed to be only exceeded by the grudges and slights that he holds against people and institutions.  While I could share some, like the one between him and Isaiah Thomas and the Detroit Pistons, if that was one the the prominent features of this blog, I would, but that isn’t what it is about.  Just as IRL, I like to spark thinking and if you aren’t thinking as your read stuff, then what are you doing with the stuff between your ears?

Now Jordan isn’t the only superstar athlete that does this kind of thinking to motivate himself on to greater achievements, just someone for whom this is a well-documented trait.  And he shares something with me that makes me wonder where he got his drive from.  See, prior to his ascension in basketball and marketing, there was no athlete who was from a stable, two-parent home, or at least, that was not the archetypical story.  It was always some struggling, underprivileged, ghetto super-hero, who magically rose above his surroundings and through the physical gifts that nature bestowed uncannily upon him, achieved his dreams.  Though my parents divorced while I was young, they maintained an amicable enough relationship where they both played roles in determining the shape of my character.  I had a relatively comfortable upbringing, not ever experiencing want or need.  I assume that Michael Jordan didn’t either, so where did he get the cutthroat ruthlessness to be MICHAEL JORDAN?  In short, where does ANYONE who achieves find the qualities that drive them to their prodigious achievements?

I have never, ever, had a “killer instinct”, never have I been a finisher, a closer, someone who comes on the scene and everything changes because of the force of will that a person brings to the fore, somehow alter and warps the destiny of those around them.  There are those who seem to, like magic, just be “better” at everything, not just in passing, but more importantly, when they need to be.

Winning is an all the time thing”, said Vince Lombardi.  He was right.  Winners didn’t start winning when it came time for the penultimate event or competition.  They have been winning since the first opportunity for victory presented itself.  So the question is, is this a quality that is innate or can this be cultivated and developed within a person?  And while the argument can be made that it is something that some people have, or like a diamond, is something that is to be developed only through circumstance and nature, I do believe that it is also a trait that
learned and employed by anyone who dares… the rub is, that it is a quality that is an “all the time thing”.

I strive to where my character is an “all the time thing”.          

One of the stories from my boxing days that I have told a few times around the fitness center where I work is one where I was training with a world champion that I happened to know of long before he was a champion.  Of course, back when we both were aspiring amateur fighters, I could not see the skills in him that led to his moments of greatness.  In fact, at that moment, I felt we were on equal ground!!  Anywho, as time passed, he had went on and became one of the best boxers of his generation, while I… quite simply, faded into obscurity.     

But this was a moment where I would have one of several “cups of coffee” with the highest levels of the sport of boxing.  The Champ was a different person, far unlike the teenager that I had known growing up.  He was a jerk, ignorant and tactless, just a rich douchebag who happened to have the skills to beat the crap out of pretty much everybody.  I noted the change in his personality (and that of his Mom, who was pretty sh*tty as a woman) and simply persevered to do my job.         

During the early part of training for this big fight, it felt like the difference between us was small, that with the level of experience and my particular talents, I was not that far off from the Champ.  Well, I don’t think anyone reading this journal would mistake me for someone who lacked confidence, and in thinking that I was a “champion-as-yet-to-be-discovered”, I was not surprised at how I was faring in training.  Then, as they say, sh*t got real.

We went west for the last four weeks of training, so that the Champ could get adjusted to the climate.  One day, during one of our training runs, me, along with the Champ, the other two sparring partners, and “the rabbit” (a friend of the Champ who was a track athlete), went running in the early morning Nevada heat. Now earlier that week, I had been able to fare well, coming in at a respectable rate behind the Champ and his paceman, and I even envisioned maybe beating them on a run.  Until I saw how wide the gulf was between me and the Champ.

After a little bit of Indian running (where one person takes the lead and the last in the line runs to the front) between us, the Champ hit another gear and with his rabbit, they took off.  I tried to keep to their pace but was failing, and as they pulled away, with each step I saw the difference between me and him.  That ineffable “whatever” was a part of the Champ and I did not have it.  And so, the question remained… how could I “get it”?  And I wondered if it took becoming a douchebag to win it??

I have thoroughly enjoyed my life.  Regrets are few, and the reason why that is, will be explained eventually.  But I have known that the “it” that people who seem to have more success at life than me, is something lacking in me and that is keeping me from attaining “whatever”.  And that, is my unfulfilled pursuit.

My “bucket list” has been exhausted and I am to the point where I am after new challenges to move me.  This missing piece of “something”, this lacking that I sense, is something that I want to eliminate from me.  In doing so, I think that I will have fulfilled my destiny.

The only “take back” I have had in my life is my marriage.  That is the only thing that has ever come up for consideration when it comes to things I wish that I hadn’t done.  And the reason has more to do with how I see the world and existence than it does with emotional angst.  My wife had shown me her character and had proven that she was a person that I was never going to be in synchronicity with.  I wish that I had been able to have obeyed my own kenning and left her to her own devices, but had I did that, my own life, the ups and downs that it contains, would have been unmade.  And that is something I could not imagine, living this life without the growth and adventures that I have had.  Which brings us to NOW.  

Given my frustrations and my desire to live a “quantified life”, I can at this point determine what will and what won’t be harmonic to my existence.  And that, is something that achievers all have done, and the things that do not feed directly into their desires and goals, they leave by the wayside.  They are comfortable with their idiosyncrasies and they are tireless in the pursuit.  I want to be more that way.  Not because single-mindedness is limiting… but being single-minded increases limits and capacity for things to be a part of you.

I’d make a note of those people who are surprisingly well-rounded, highly accomplished people, but again, that isn’t this blog.  What I will say, however, is that the trite “Facebook Philosophers” that post stuff about “how the people that aren’t blah, blah, blah” and “those who “blah, blah, blah,” were to really follow the wisdom of their posts, they would not have to post it… they’d be DOING IT.
I will still be blogging… but I don’t know if my personal details will be blog worthy material.  I don’t have issues with the people in my life, the concerns of my day-to-day are balanced by my overall pursuit of a well-lived life.  If anything, politics, because of my reliance on agencies of the State, both federal and locally, is a bigger concern than any person in my life.

Will Nebraska and I ever become friends?  Will Princess suddenly re-enter the picture??  Will my current friend ever come off probation??  Do you really give a sh*t??  This stuff matters to me and I DON’T.  But as I close this super long entry, I will say that Princess has been the subject of stuff relating to discussion about Jordan, the Champ, and the quality that I lack but hope to cultivate in time.                


abbiestreehouse said...

"I strive to where my character is an 'all the time thing'" is one of my favorite lines you've written.

I was never traditionally competitive because I couldn't enjoy winning knowing I'd caused someone else to lose. (Gore Vidal said just just the opposite: "It is not enough merely to win; others must lose.") Anyway, I enjoy more solitary challenges: How good can I be? How nice a thing can I make or create?

Ken Riches said...

Yes, I Give A Shit!

You can be driven and successful without being an ass, I may not be wealthy, but I am successful in my own mind :o)