the game i love
it was a bright saturday morning about 3 years ago. the neighbourhood was devoid of noise other than the sound of a basketball bouncing off the hardtop. on the court, nine players were missing. there were no referees, no game clock and certainly no spectators – that is if you do not include the irritated residents living in the adjacent blocks. a lone figure fired jumpshots after jumpshots. in his head, he was playing in front of millions, and of course he had just made the game-winning shot. he was lapping up the adulation when someone shouted ‘siao ah!’ (crazy!) and brought him back to earth. deflates.
‘that ball needs more air’, was the casual observation of my brother when he saw me bouncing the basketball just now. i couldn’t help but smile at that.
inflation, literally, and that of self once upon a time. i actually believed that if i became good enough at that game, that would count for something in my life. i felt like i could be someone. but you know what they say about getting sharper with age. you now need to burst your own bubble before someone else does it for you. we all learn to leave our dreams behind. what we once carefully nurtured, we now cast off as being ‘kiddish’ and ‘foolish’. fantasies give way to reality, impracticality gives way to logic, the stratosphere to earth.
ligaments and joints, they begin to, well, give way too. all of a sudden knee braces are part and parcel of my basketball experience. sure, i could be all macho and not wear them but my knees will not let me hear the end of it the next day. i once played three times a week. today was the first time after three weeks. i was out of breath after twenty minutes, where i once could go at it for 2 hours. my stamina of the past seemed almost superhuman. then again, i am but a mere mortal.
i left so much of myself on the court. we have the requisite sweat and blood, of course. anger, aggression, disappointment, camaraderie, just to name a few of the others. but most important of all i left my problems behind when i played. there is something fundamentally therapeutic about the rhythmic slapping of the ball on the ground. there is release to be found in euphoria after winning a hard-fought game. sure, i left a lot behind, though i’m not too sure if i took enough away from the court. i still believe that once you have loved something, it will always stay a part of you.
when i woke up this morning, i heard the faint sound of a solitary ball bouncing, coming from the basketball court that my room faces. it’s probably some kid, i thought.
and i don’t think he is crazy.
for more of my thoughts, click here.