Choose your play

Let me tell you a story. I was 9 years old. I had come to Madrid just the year before, moving from a smaller town following my father's appointment from a regional position to the shiny headquarters. I joined a new school (a girls' school, but that's a different story) and found a good fit with the other boys (how come! there were only 8 of us!). On spring, during the annual school celebration, a students vs teachers basketball match took place, like every year. They were kind enough to invite me to join the students team as the junior of them all. I had enrolled the basket team that year and, while not talented, I was always obedient and nice, so probably they just thought I deserved a pat in the back. I played just a few minutes, with a totally forgettable performance as you would expect from the youngest and not-really-talented player of the whole troupe. During the last 3 minutes of the match, I was called in. My heart jumped in my chest, as the match was really tight and I felt totally out of place among the team that would define the result of the match. They passed me the ball a couple times, teachers were fair enough to not really push me and I was prudent enough to pass it on quickly and surely. Last minute. We're playing around the three-point line, me on the front. I receive the ball in an attempt to circle it around the zone waiting for a chance some of our good players break defense and try. I have the ball, the teacher defending steps back (I'm not a threat, fair play). I look at the rim from beyond the three-line. In a fraction of a second I feel what must be like to score a 3 point in that very defining moment. I vividly feel the excitement, the rush of taking ownership of the victory. The moment I shot, I knew it was in.

Players and crowd around cannot believe what they just saw. After an eternal second of confusion, the shouting and clapping explodes. The match was not over, still a good minute to go, but they don't even seem to care, they just stop, call it a match and lift me to celebrate. I'm living the dream I so vividly felt seconds ago.

What a moment! Top 5 in my life for sure. I refer back to it every now and then. On one hand it surely lifts me up. On the other hand I try to never forget the learnings I could take from it. To truly understand how impacting this is for me, you need to realize that at 9, I've just played in smaller mini-basket courts. A couple times we tried at the bigger siblings. Man those basketball hoops looked like skyscrapers! Once we moved over to the three-line and made a couple of attempts from there. I never reached the rim. Far from it. The insanity of even trying to do that on a real match I cannot even rationalize. I had 0 chances of success and a really high likelihood of being a ridiculous act.

There's one way to look at what happened there. Paulo Coelho style, when you want something, the universe conspires in helping you achieve it. This was for sure the way I read this moment back then. I'm capable of anything if only I try. That deep belief I still have today, and I hope that it never goes away, because I wouldn't forgive if I don't try and expose myself the way I do from time to time.

But there's another realization. During my basket career, I've been an absolutely miserable player. I don't remember any other occasion in which I did anything remarkable in this field, even more so, I believe I was a complete drag for the team, failing in the critical and not so critical moments with frustrating consistency. But the point is, I don't really remember any of that. My brain has filtered all that in favor of the glorious moment. And this pattern expands to all other areas. My subconscious seems to push the bad memories out of sight fairly quickly, and all that remains are moments of happiness, laughter, success and enjoyment. As a result I'm a natural optimist that believes that nothing bad can happen to me (I'm exaggerating a bit to make the point, but not that much.)

Sometimes I fear this apparently blissful condition is a double-edged sword. As if all the shit will pop up in the worst of the moments, making the fall much harder. Will I wake up one day realizing my whole life was built on a delusion? Will I regret having lowered my guard when the crude reality hits me? Am I bothering people around me by neglecting issues I'm not even aware of while they're waiting for me to address them?

I don't now, relativism will drag us down to an endless discussion, even with ourselves, to try to determine whether I'm way too light at judging how lucky I am or not. But rationally, is it better to live a bitter life, full of worries and regrets, because that is safer when trouble really comes?

I choose my three points. I choose the cheering and the joy. Maybe I'm not ready for a hard strike (I'll figure out when a get there), but I'm surely ready for another home run. And you bet that's the only way to make one happen.

Hey, sorry for that long one, I'm being cut off on my plane back from São Paulo, no time to edit much, so there I leave the post, straight from the heart. Cheers!

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