If you can’t play, coach… (topic 1 of 157)

 

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If you read my previous post¬†you know I’m embarking on a new venture, I’m writing about 157 topics, in the order I jotted them down in my phone.

I wrote the notes to myself over the last few years because, I guess, I had been a writer but currently was not one? Or didn’t think I was one? Or had reached a new level of laziness? Whatever the reason, I stopped writing, but at some level knew I still wanted to write, so compiled a tome of things to write about – someday.

Welcome to someday…

I’m an athlete, and at my age (54) I’m still fast. I’m hard to get the better of on a soccer field, I go to the gym, lift weights, ride a bike (and a skateboard) etc., etc. One thing I don’t do is play basketball. I can only remember one period in my life when I did, and that was as a kid living in Northern California. Dad nailed a hoop to the garage and me, my brother, and the neighborhood kids would play in our driveway.

But here’s something you’ve got to know: the game the rest of us were playing was nothing like the one my little brother Brian played. He was leaps and bounds ahead of us – figuratively and literally. If he wanted to take the ball from you, he could. If he wanted to score on you he could. It was weird – frustratingly weird – for me, an athletic kid, to be part of a game where, because of the far-above-average level of play by an opponent, I felt like ‘what’s the point?’

Unless I was on his team, then the drill was, get the ball to Brian and he’ll score.

After those afternoons on our driveway court, I stuck to sports I got more payoff from. Football? Great. Baseball? Sure. Soccer? You bet. But, whether I was aware of the reason or not, I began avoiding basketball.

Fast forward a few years to me in the Air Force – the unit I was in had a basketball team, as most units on base did, which I had no desire to be a part of. But here’s the funny thing about the military: they don’t really factor your desires into their plans for you. It was made clear to me that everybody tries out for the team – everybody. But I didn’t want to play basketball. I argued that I was already on the Base Soccer Team, but to no avail.

So here’s where I went with it: I asked if they had a coach? Well, no, not yet, but they were sure one (older, more experienced in basketball strategy and drills and nuances) would show up.

So I asked for the job.

And, I’m still not quite sure why, they gave it to me.

So on game night I’d dress up in a jacket and tie, stand on the sidelines with clipboard in hand, and “coach”. Which was really kind of funny ’cause these guys knew exactly how to play, and they were good (really good) and usually blew the other team out.

As I watched idly by.

I’m an athlete, but every now and then the better gig is spectating…

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Write, right?

I’m a writer.

There, I said it.

And why is it important that I say it? Because I forgot – forgot I was a writer. I don’t mean totally forgot, as in some sort of odd, one-particular-skill amnesia, I mean forgot as in I’ve forgotten to write.

I used to be a writer. Really, I did. I started out writing where most of us started, in school. And I wrote well. I typically got good marks on my papers (even the ones that were a little off topic, or demonstrated I hadn’t truly understood the assignment before putting words to paper). And when the teacher handed them back, I always read my words again – because I like words, and the words I like most are the ones I decided best express my thoughts.

The writing skills I learned in school led, eventually, to writing for a newspaper where I wrote under the moniker of “The Online Dating Coach” (long story, for another time perhaps) which then led to writing a book and more newspaper columns.

And then I stopped.

I stopped writing.

Wait, that’s not entirely true. I did write, just a little bit, about what I wanted to – someday – write about. What does that mean? In my phone I keep a list of topics that I want to write about… eventually. I jot down the topic as it occurs to me, so that I can remember it, when I make the time to write about it.

Every time I’d see something that made me think of what I’d like to say about that thing I just saw, or every time someone said something that struck a chord with me, and made me want to reveal to the world what that chord sounds like, I’d write it down in my little ‘phone list’. And there it stayed, for about 4 or 5 years now, hidden and dormant and undeveloped.

This morning I, for lots of reasons I guess, opened that list to look at it. And I counted how many topics I’d written down to ‘someday write about’.

157

157 topics. Some just a few words, others have a paragraph or two devoted to the subject or theme.

Weird, so weird, that 157 times I’ve written a topic down in my list because I felt it was important enough to write about. But not really important enough to write about, only important enough to write a reminder about.

So here’s how I correct the weirdness:

This blog will now be devoted to exploring each and every one of those 157 topics, in order, until they’re done.

There was a reason to write each of them down in the first place, so now I will validate those reasons and bring my ideas out in the open. Will some of them suck? Yeah, maybe, but each and every one will get its day in the sun, in order, as it should, until I reach and complete all 157. Only then will I go back to writing (or not writing) about anything else.

It’s time to write.