Creativity & The Running Back

“A true genius admits that he or she knows nothing.”
Albert Einstein

“It isn’t enough to think outside of the box. Thinking is passive. Get used to acting outside the box.”
— Tim Ferris

runningbackRecently I’ve been intrigued with the ideas of creativity and greatness. What most of us think of as creativity is limited to the arts like writing, painting, dancing, acting, and sculpting. What people don’t consider is athletics. But think of the greats like Michael Jordan, Johnny Orr, Alex Rodriguez, Mario Andretti, Richard Petty, Joe Montana, Brett Favre, Jean-Claude Killy, Apollo Ono, Evgeni Plushenko, and Michelle Kwan.

How did Jordan always make that last shot? Because he practiced? Maybe. Because he was the best in the game? Probably. But I think Jordan had the creative genius to calculate the correct degree of height, of the arch, and of power, all while being double-teamed by defenders to make that last game winning shot. But the calculation was a subconscious thought, similar to ballet dancers and actors.

Let me give you another example, the professional running back. For example: All at once the RB (running back) sees the offensive play unfolding; he sees the hole, the hole insidezonetriplehe’d practised hundreds of times before; creating the hole requires a pulling guard to double team the defensive tackle and the center to move the nose guard to the right causing a gap in the defensive line and subsequent hole; theoretically, in the gap normally covered by the middle linebacker reading a run, but who now reads a pass from the secondary, yelling “pass pass!” The safety bumps and runs with the wide receivers as the tight end drops back to move the defensive right tackle to protect the quarterbacks blind side, while the fullback picks up a nimble cornerback blitzing wide, but the fullback buries him in the backfield; the the handoff finally happens just as the hole appears like an apparition in a dense fog; a hole, first imagined by a coach on a sheet of paper, placed in a playbook as “off-tackle left on two”; practised hundreds of times butpackerback never recognized by the RB; but now, the hole has opened and he’s about to step through the paradigm and into a new future; what’s on the other side of the hole, what does the future hold; this is creativity at its rawest form; this is the result of imagination and practice; it’s a coach’s hypotheses, an offensive lines determination, and an RB’s commitment to his future; yet, he hesitates until he hears his conscience telling to run through the hole; then he runs headlong through the gap while realizing that the runningbackstraightarmhole isn’t the future, it’s simply a doorway, his future lies on the other side of the threshold.

You see, creativity happens throughout all walks of life. From the sciences to the arts to medicine and law and athletics. It happens to most of us even if we never realize it.

But if you’re lucky enough to have children, then I recommend you look them in the eyes because in them you will always find your greatest example of your own creativity.

 

 

A Story For All Of Us

apartyMania is rich with almost-entertaining stories of bravado, of haphazard action, of disobeying most laws, of discarding sexual partners like “he loves me, he loves me not” petals.  But to a Manic, his/her episode could last years resulting in an incoherent swath of personal wreckage whose repetition finally drained even a mother’s irrevocable devotion (tucked in the coffee can behind the flour); The Manic loves a great party yet never buys a round.  The Manic’s desperate all in bluff with a pair of five’s causes a stumble, then a slip, finally sinking to Mania’s Skid Row: rancid, broke, estranged, lost, and nameless.  Until Sanity emerges from her safe place dragging you past leering, inflated, lobby guards who toss their opinions about each other like outfielders in a softball game.

alowlandSanity does her best to shield Mania from their sickening taunts; too late: liking to the daring distillers in Scotland (less than two %) who cross the authority of majority by bottling their whisky unfiltered and unadulterated, Mania scoops up her life’s residue and bits of character and leaps over the guard stand tackling two and beating the outspoken guard screaming, “However I am, I’m still human!”  It is said three guards and a janitor finally regained control and thus depositing Mania somewhere deep within the bowels of Sanity.

At night, seconds after bedroom lights dim, from somewhere very near or very far, Sanity faintly hears Mania’s outcry, “However I am, I’m still human . . . “ascottishgirl

A Recent Visit With An Old Journal (July-September, 2008)

astormI do know how it happened, this convergence of the perfect storm, but the why I set it in motion is still a mystery to me. My feelings of absolute worthlessness have been building for years; starting much like the birth of a tsunami deep in some crevice in the ocean, a shifting of my inner tectonic plates, natural I suppose in the grind of life, but this shift caused great, unpredictable movement of the seas of my life which, by all accounts rose higher, and deeper, and soon engulfed the tiny town of my life, built, I suppose foolishly too close to the shore.

And then it came, this huge wave and friends and lovers fled. I on the other hand, all too well aware stood steadfast in its path. It washed over awaveme, this wave, crushing me against the only world I knew now, that which was beneath my feet. Gripping the sand I held firm, never certain that as it receded, that it would not pull me far, far out to sea.

Gradually it did retreat and once again the sun broke the surface and I lay gasping, choking on air which days before had given life and now condemns me to deal with this devastation.

I had a deep sense that not all was okay with me. I often complained of a dark gnawing I had felt, or heard in my mind. I always thought that it was my creative self scratching to get out in the form of writing. But now I wonder if indeed it was my inner self pleading for help. I could never articulate it sufficiently to those around me, nor did I ever think it was truly a cry for help. Until this week when, what I thought was my tidy little world fell absolutely apart. It was this week when I was diagnosed with major depression.

aquietzone2And from what I now understand it is taking a very predictable course complete with dark patches, rough zones, drifting away from reality, but the one part which I cannot fathom is my inability to be stimulated by more than one thing at a time. For instance, I cannot tolerate music playing and talking; I cannot tolerate stress; I cannot tolerate anger or anything except calm. If I sense more than one thing at a time I shut down and go to a quiet place.

I suspect it all fell apart when it all came together; a perfect storm as I have said; a convergence of three wholly separate, yet tumultuous events which I set in motion.

I had been in a loving 23 year relationship. We had all the trappings of a solid relationship: jobs, cars, cat, home, garden, money, retirement. But something was sorely lacking. Me. I wasn’t in it any longer. I couldn’t be in it. Being in it was too painful for me. The hurt which started as aloverskissingsuspicion around my drinking and drug abuse quickly cascaded into a kind of secret identity which I couldn’t share with him for fear of reprisal. I needed the drugs and alcohol to buffer the deepening sadness of my life. I didn’t want to face, didn’t know how to face this gnawing, this scratching which would never quiet on its own. The only way to silence it was through sleep, inebriation or a Vicodin high.

I also had a very romantic side which died when my partner no longer accepted my tokens of affection. It’s not that he didn’t want them, but they grew silly or unneeded or immaterial or expensive or, even I suppose worthless. Aren’t these tokens of affection best saved for times of seduction or apology or bereavement? And so into the roll-top desk of my life I placed this need to “show” my affection in the drawer called “get to later” right next to my sexual desires, overwhelming need for affection and self-worth. I simply closed the drawer and drew down the lid patting those things adieu. I knew they’d be withdrawn at some later date, when the amour would willingly accept my advances.

Should I have simply ignored his requests to cease and continued my gifts? Perhaps. But our finances had become so entwined that he would have known how much I had spent of these trinkets and he would’ve been cross. Could I have paid cash? Of course, I suppose, but when tokens of affection aren’t valued, the value plummets, the surprise ebbs, the feeling I get wanes. I learned to simply file it away.

I knew that our relationship had weathered many storms; it was built strong; based on honesty and open communication. But shouldn’t every abiggameman have a secret or two? A trinket of conquest placed deeply into a suit pocket? An amulet to ward off demons? A trophy? Hung handsomely on the wall? Hadn’t all my friends had trophies? Yes! Oh, yes, they had! Not one friend that I know has ever been in a relationship as long as ours without the occasional dalliance; but mine was different. Mine was a manic affair, built on a foundation of bogs and swampland and prone to sink.  A manic affair is a very dangerous liaison often resulting in collateral damage and repairable of which I did not fully anticipate it’s consequence.

 

 

Waking Is A Cruel Reminder

Daybreak brings a lethargic admission of perjury; or one of those dawdling, cursory, and out of earshot suspicions of yesterday: yet today’s yesterday sidesteps its propriety of disappearance; it haunts my waking like the abstract restlessness of a paradoxical child contesting its own afternoon drowsiness; both the scrappy child and the cantankerous yesterday will eventually accede to time’s quiet erosion of callow resistance and release their hold on the buoy of existence and sink heavily into their rightful place like a puzzle piece.

It’s called “Daybreak” for a reason. In my case it should be called “Every-Day-Breaks.”