Reign... No... Rain Over Me

Friday, May 18, 2012

[THE PITCH] There I was, down on the ground, physically … emotionally. I had gone to practice early to get in a pre-practice meditation. I thought it might be nice to get "my Ohm on" at the field.

Instead, below sky of gathering clouds, I sit uncomfortably on a patch of turf at Valhalla … eerily alone. I can’t find my mantra. For those of you unfamiliar with meditation, well … first of all, I suggest you look into it … But, in the mean time, let me try to explain. The National Science Foundation estimates that the average person has about 50,000 thoughts per day and, of those thoughts, the majority, are neither new nor productive. A mantra “is a sound capable of creating spiritual transformation” (thanks Wikipedia) so… when practicing Vedic meditation, I repeat my mantra in my head, and she helps me move toward inner peace, as it were.

Currently, I close my eyes but instead of succumbing to her tranquil and soothing sound, I am bombarded by the clamor of anxious thoughts wailing for attention. Just two days after a 4-1 loss to Kristianstad, and I cannot stop re-living the three-hour bus ride home from the game. Who knew silence could be so loud? Everyone seemed so unsettled. As the wheels of the bus went round and round, so did the thoughts spinning in our heads. Frustration. Disappointment. Confusion. Frustration. Disappointment… As I sit cross-legged on the turf, I find no respite from the sudden drop in atmospheric pressure.  Where are you, mantra?

I am generally pretty good at leaving my emotions on the field as I cross the line and make my way back to real life, but this most recent loss has stuck with me. I feel like Eeyore, with my own personal rain cloud hovering above me. I cannot figure out what I could have done better. The feeling of power is enlivening, as is having a solution, or at least a plan. And I have none of these things. I am awkward without any control.

The game itself felt indomitable because I was not able to find the ball where I wanted it. I was not clicking with my team. When they zigged, I zagged.  When they played me the ball, I was standing offside. But the failure did not result from lack of effort. I was trying so hard. I was trying too hard. Too much was riding on the outcome of the game. Too much weighed on the inch difference between the shot I took that went flying off the crossbar and a golazo.

How can I fix a problem in timing, chemistry, in having experience together as a team? What tangible steps can I take to fix the intangibles? My head and heart are pounding. I need answers. I need them now.

Well its clear this meditation is not going well. Inner peace? I think I’m closer to finding my inner crazy … What’s that? Drizzle. Typical …

The rhythmic rain taps away some of my frustration and takes my mind off the game, just long enough for her to come back to me. The reemergence of my mantra lets me know that although this problem isn’t over, I can put it in the past. Twenty minutes later, I blink my eyes open. And I realize meditation in and of itself is proof that I can fix the seemingly elusive problems.

In meditation, through a supposedly simple task of closing your eyes and focusing your thoughts, you are able to control your heart rate, blood flow, and other physiological conditions. As you practice your meditation, you get better and better at regulating the things you thought were out of your control. So while I can’t instantly affect the team chemistry, the timing, the luck -- simply putting in the effort helps build the missing links. Each drill we run in practice, each day I do yoga and grab lunch together with my teammates, we get closer. Every smile shared, every high five helps to build a foundation for success and satisfaction.

As the cloud burst overhead, I sit sad and soaked. But suddenly the rain starts to feel good against my skin. And now, I am instantly invigorated. I am caught in a late spring storm. I am having a Garden State moment.

Sometimes, as one of 22 players on the field, I feel insignificant. Sometimes the game passes me by. But today my meditation has reminded me that I can control some simple things, and those things can indirectly change the game. I am not a victim of circumstance. I am not a pawn in a play. I am proactive. I am powerful. I am inspired. I must meet change with an open hand, not a fist. So maybe I don’t have all of the solutions. Maybe I don’t have the perfect game plan. But I have hope for our future -- a future where this team will really find each other, and for now, that’s enough.

[Off the Post!] My older sister Tyler and I are sitting on my big red couch in our pajamas watching some TV, when I see the time: 21.48.

“Tyler. We have 12 minutes.”

“Hurry! We have to go.”

We both get up quickly, throw on our shoes and coats, and head straight out the door.

My sister has busted out of the apartment building, and meanwhile, I am limping like I just got shot in the leg, trying to keep up. Earlier that day in practice, I got the world’s worse Charlie horse. Don’t judge: pain is pain people!

I hobble down to the local market, only to find it closed. Tyler turns back at me. “Oh my God. I have to leave you.” I watch her run down the slippery hill that I live on. And then she’s gone. “Chunky monkey!” I yell into the distance …

Tyler made it back to the apartment in a deep sweat, but with a big smile, holding two tubs of ice cream… Yes, all this in the name of ice cream, and nope, we Press girls also don’t share well.

But it gets better. Tyler informed me that, alas, we are not the only crazies out there. Lunatics unite!! She said that there were two others that came clobbering through the grocery store doors at 9:55.

According to her, she kept company with a scantily dressed older woman who purchased a single tall boy beer… and thin man in his twenties who left with two boxes of cookies and a six pack of coke.

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Rookie For Life,

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