IWSG - First Round Draft Pick
For this month’s Insecure Writer Support Group post – the brainchild of Alex J. Cavanaugh – I reached back into my own blogging roots and pulled out my very first post. I stumbled across it while doing some much-needed digital house cleaning, and after reading it I immediately decided to use it for the next IWSG post. You’ll soon see why. I hope you get something out of it.
Three days a week I visit our local Health Club, doing my best to stave off old age and atone for eating habits filled with goodies banned from my diet, but consumed anyway. Yesterday was a day like most others, a vigorous workout followed by a cool down period circling around the walking track which is on the second floor overlooking a basketball court. As I made my way around the oval, lost in my thoughts while I listened to music from my iPod, I happened to take notice of a small boy playing with a basketball beneath me.
The little guy was maybe seven or eight years old and was so small that the basketball looked like a giant orange boulder in his hands. From the awkwardness in his movements and the way he handled himself, it was easy to see that this wasn’t a boy who was destined to be a star athlete. He was constantly pausing to tug up his baggy shorts that looked more like sailor pants on his stubby legs, his t-shirt must have been an older brother hand-me-down because it was three sizes too large for him -- and there were tiny LED lights flashing from the soles of his sneakers as he moved around the court. I watched as he valiantly struggled to lift the ball above his head and thrust it in the direction of the goal. Each shot ascending three or four feet into the air and then falling back to the court, well short of the goal, sometimes just missing his head on the return. The ball would bounce away quickly...almost as if it was desperately seeking escape from the futility, but the small boy was relentless. He pursued the ball everywhere until it was captured and returned to the same spot underneath the goal where he would wrestle it into shooting position and launch it on its way once more. Each time the ball would fall back to the ground, still well short of the intended target.
After a half dozen of these attempts I really started to take an interest in this kid. His determination was so amazing, surely there had to be a reason for his efforts. Scanning the rest of the area below I could see a group of teenagers shooting at the other end of the court, but nobody seemed to be paying particular attention to this little boy – and he certainly wasn’t paying notice to them. No -- he wasn’t trying to impress a coach, or curry the prideful support of a loving parent or sibling; he was just trying to play a sport he obviously loved. His motivations were so simple…so pure. If Kobe, or Lebron, or even the boy next door could do it . . . then why couldn't he.
When I counted a dozen unsuccessful attempts by the boy my walk had almost slowed to a standstill. If there was only a way to extract and bottle whatever it was that drove that little man, I’d be a Bazillionaire! Failure had no effect on him, and more than that, I doubt he even thought in those terms. There was no concept of limitations…nobody around to tell him what was achievable -- and what wasn’t ….and his amount of effort wasn’t contingent on results. Over and over he threw up his ball, ever confident in his mind that each toss was getting that much closer to his goal.
Another person might have looked upon his hard work and scoffed at the pointlessness. That person would be missing the point.
After a short while the number of teenagers at the other end had grown to the point where they decided to expand their game to full-court. The little boy conceded his spot without a word of protest, walking over to stand against the wall with his arms wrapped around the ball, watching the interlopers as they chose-up teams.
I finally headed off to the showers, but it was a long while before I was able to get the little guy out of my mind. I told myself that if I were one of those teenagers about to play, one lucky enough to be named captain of a team and given the responsibility of choosing my teammates, I knew exactly the type of player I wanted. While the other captain would be looking for height, quick feet and soft hands…I would be looking for something that originated in a different part of the body. The heart.
My first choice might not be the smartest...or most popular...and lifted straight out of a Hollywood movie…but it would be the right one.
That little boy would be my first round draft choice.