Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The Goal - what is it?

It was in summer basketball camp that the high school coach told us that none of us would ever be playing NBA basketball. I was defiant. I could not even start for my junior high team, but I was convinced through hard work I could be a professional basketball player. My more immediate goal was to play for the High School Varsity team – the Osseo Orioles. I attended every home game as a youngster. I would cheer on the Orange and black team and knew all the starting players. It seemed an honor to be able to wear those flashy warm-ups and all I desired was to one day be able to play on that team.

I shot baskets over and over again in our driveway and developed a potent outside shot. But, I was small and not very strong. I had not grown since I was in the fourth grade and by my ninth grade year I was an undersized and skinny guard. Going into to my sophomore year, it seemed like I would probably get cut once tryouts for the basketball team commenced. Suddenly, I began to grow but not upward. My feet and hands grew. I was 5’7” with a size 13 basketball shoe and I could not run down the court without falling down. I think I made the team, strictly because the coaches knew my father (he was 6’4”) and the looked at my feet and knew I had to grow into them eventually. My junior year I was 5’10” and going into my senior year I was 6’3” although still skinny weighing barely 135 lbs. I made the team and I could shoot and handle the ball decently. I was wearing the uniform, but I stopped having fun. Suddenly basketball was not very fun.

I started running distances my senior year. In my phy. ed. class my junior year, I ran a 4:57 mile in high-top basket ball shoes. I was skinny and all legs. I could run forever without tiring. My phy ed teacher was also the Cross-country coach. He told me if I trained all summer I would be the State Champion in the fall. I didn’t train over the summer, but since I was assured of a place on the roster for the varsity basketball team in the winter, I decided I might as well go out for the cross-country team as well and I had a blast. I wasn’t the state champ but I was all state, all conference, all regional and our team went to the state meet. I ran a 4:20 mile and a 9:26 2-mile in the spring and suddenly I my goal went from the NBA to the Olympics.

I ran cross-country in college and track, but I never really trained during the summers. I slowly put on weight and eventually my frame filled out with muscle that was not conducive to being carried over long distances. Besides, I started playing the guitar and decided I was going to be a rock star. Then, I was going to be a politician, then get my PhD.

Goals? What is the goal in life? One of the things I realized about sports and competition is that there is no ultimate goal. We strive to be a champion and, in the majority of cases, most of us will never get there. But, even the champions have to defend their title and eventually will be dethroned. So, we end all competitive pursuits with failure. That is our last memory. And, I knew I wanted more in life than failure. But, what is success?

Is there a goal in life? Raise a family, is that it? I really don’t know what it is. It might be to live the good life, but to live the good life we first have to decide what the good life is. I suppose that is the spot I am at right now. I am trying to define what the good life is, so I can make a goal worth striving for. In the meantime, it is just one day at a time, or on a more cynical note - as Celine says - Death on the Installment Plan.