waiting to exhale

January 5, 2017

Saw Birdman a few nights ago on free-to-air tv and it made me think.  Is this blog a feeble attempt at relevance?  I don’t really use FB (because like internet browsing it can lead you down a time-consuming rabbit hole) or tweet (because I have verbal diarrheoa).  Although it’s very hard for me to type, writing does help with my sanity.

I am used to working two jobs (usually one full-time and another as a casual) and now I have none.  Many say I’m “Iucky” because I can’t help around the house anymore and have a valid “excuse”, am I really that “fortunate” to lose my balance and co-ordination? Do they even stop to think maybe I don’t want to be on the lounge and watch all day.  Forget walking, what I would have given for my speech to be left intelligible (now it’s only my wife that mostly understands me) so I could have tried to hang on to my last job for longer.

I wouldn’t mind wearing glasses but instead I need a handheld magnifier to read “small” fonts because I’m legally blind (although I can still see).  It’s getting around with a walker that most concerns me about losing my eyesight.  I wish I could adjust the size and contrast of subtitles to suit my preferences.

There’s still a lot I want to see but most sites are pretty much inaccessible.  That’s perhaps why my interest in food is more pronounced.  I can’t even drink a hot beverage on my own (and I really love coffee).    Sure, I no longer cook nor bake (I was rather fond and quite “good” at both) but I can still enjoy eating – although I now refrain from bones and soup (as they are “tricky” for me).  I’ve given up alcohol since I use a straw to drink (since I don’t want to be easily intoxicated with all the air I ingest and drinking wine is just stupid).  Although, I suspect, I would’ve been naturally weaned off the stuff as my wife’s allergic and I’ve got a son who’s still too young to drink. Moreover, I’m not really a fan of waiting for my food to cool down; or expecting for a straw or a bowl (because I need them to feed myself independently) to come as those around me begin eating.

It’s the ordinary things I find troublesome like stairs, buttons, inclines and writing implements.  It takes me longer to dress, brush my teeth manually (automated brushes often have small bristle “footprints” and I can’t floss), cut my finger nails (I can no longer groom my own toe nails) and use an electric shaver. The only reason I can go to the toilet and bathe myself is because of the equipment (a raiser and a shower chair & bars respectively).  Aside from not being comfortable, I find the concept of adult diapers disgusting.  Also, I’ve got to pee more often as I can no longer hold my bladder.  Don’t get me started on how toilet doors open and the cramped spaces – poor design often results from a lack of empathy or thought.

I know it shouldn’t bother me but I used to be a “fast” walker for my height. Now because I walk very slowly and carefully, I lag very much behind my family.  Maybe it’s a thing I got so used to. I can no longer play basketball which was my main form of recreation and exercise (and stress relief).

I hate it when I’m told to think of others who struggle more than me.  It makes me even “sadder” for them and not grateful that my condition could be worse (and don’t feel “better” at all).

I don’t usually whinge but I’ve been told in order to truly move on I need to vent on occasion – so pardon the collection of complaints, I’ll try to avoid such posts.

enough

July 6, 2014

I’m not that smart or physically gifted but in the end this was a blessing.  It made me and makes me try harder.  While other people are much more talented, I feel I am able to achieve more due to their complacency.  They say “grit” is a better indicator for “success.”

I may not have had stellar marks at university but I felt I knew more than most of my batch mates.  I had other interests also occupy my time.  To have academics and IQ as the only measures of human potential is, to my mind, quite short-sighted.  Sure it is easier to manage what is tangible but it is not always the case that it is what is essential to the individual or to the organisation.

I used to enjoy playing basketball even if I was slow, short, and could not jump very high.  I used my brain to counteract my physical limitations.  We are so obsessed with winning that we often neglect that what is really important is we strive to better ourselves and we work toward realising our potential: it is about mastery and not success.  You say that is what a loser would say but we are so enamoured with being number one and top ten lists that we ignore the fact that certain things are beyond our control.  It is not an excuse not to try hard but whatever we attempt needs to be grounded in reality: the prayer for serenity is quite apropos.

My personal best is 33 straight shots made at the free throw line and 7 3-pointers.  But what I enjoyed most was passing the rock to help facilitate the scoring of others. My most creative pass was one that I dubbed ‘Not Necessarily Behind the Back’ which was called as travelling by the referee.  To this day I am still convinced that it was valid:  it was so new and different that it created confusion and understandably led to that call. In high school I was designated as a player-coach of a team that won the championship.   The clash of egos was our expected downfall but to everyone’s surprise we never dropped a game despite facing fierce competition. The players were so good that I had the luxury of doing a mass substitution:  replacing all 5 players on the court with the bench.  Juggling playing time was difficult but the secret of our “success” was that there was no pressure on a handful of players to always perform at peak efficiency. In contrast, my last 2 years were on a team that hardly won.  We were not supposed to perform as “well” being a bunch of “nerds.” We may have not been premiers but had heart and played to the best of our ability.  The point is to make the best of the cards you were dealt:  you may not always get what you want divert your focus instead to what is truly essential.

Do not get me wrong:  I endeavour to win every time I compete – it is just not my end all and be all. I still have fond memories of eventually winning a basketball game by 5 in spite of being down by 18 points with 5 minutes remaining on the game clock. That said, I remember distinctly losing 2 games: in both cases we were expected to lose.  In the first, there were only 5 of us (which we had trouble even achieving) but 12 3-pointers among us:  I think I made 3 of them.  We gave our opponents a good run but were defeated when 1 of our players fouled out towards the end of the game.   The other one was against a much stronger side. We slowed down the pace to an excruciating tempo.  They clearly wanted to run the ball and as a result were obviously frustrated with the speed of the game and made quite a few mistakes.  They eventually won but not with the huge margin they expected.

Society loves winners.  I am not saying you forego the rules and expectations:  you have to play the game if you want to get anywhere.  Just try to be conscious of the choices you make and be aware of the compromises and repercussions of your decisions.   I am not saying you should abandon idealism just learn to temper it with pragmatism.  Our desire to emulate certain people is an evolutionary imperative but it can be tricky given the culture of “celebrity” we find ourselves immersed in.  It is now difficult to be your own man more than ever.  I am not saying you should not be influenced by others; just be discerning.

hoop dreams

February 24, 2012

some of my personal bests are:  37 straight free throws during practise, 5 three-pointers at an actual game and 8 three-pointers during a pick-up game – now i’m lucky if i can make a shot.  despite being short i liked being underestimated by opponents, i enjoyed playing defense as a forward, and looked forward to playing against much taller players for the challenge.  i was decent at passing the rock and could play good defense when i wanted to.  i’m not very fast nor do i jump high – as a point guard i used mainly my head.  i wasn’t talented so i used my determination instead – i biked a few Ks just to practise.  i used to play hoops to destress and sometimes when i had bouts of insomnia.  everthing made sense on the court.  it’s not so much the physicality i miss but the creative things i used to be able to do with the ball like the not necessarily behind the back pass.  i wonder if i’ll be able to play basketball that way again.

friday night lights

February 17, 2012

i used to look forward to the end of the long work week because then i could unwind with a friendly game of hoops.  i try to occupy my time but lately because  i’m a lot at home days seem to blur into one another.

underdog, not

June 19, 2008

i never thought i’d ever want to see the C’s beat L.A. as they did. things change i guess. they’ve worked so hard and it’s been so long.

game on!

November 1, 2006

Hoops are back – the 2006-2007 NBA season has just opened.

equipoise

October 29, 2006

Have slowly begun feeling a bit “overwhelmed” lately. Usual manifestations – resurgence of my lifelong bout with insomnia, an increased appetite for epicurean indulgences, and decreased productivity. Making a bit of time for “co-occupational” activities this week: a workshop and a colloquium. An apt theme emerged – one of balance.

Most of my recent career has been set in fundamentally toxic environments; my work life in Australia has been a nice change of pace (this is due to a pervasive emphasis and belief in the importance of quality of life here). Unfortunately, this has caused me to lower my guard and severely underestimate how small pressures can slowly snowball into manifest stress. Given previous tolerances, i have foolishly not done very much to consciously manage this reality. Not unless you count a “commitment” to a weekly pick-up game of b-ball.

Stopping to think about it – this pervading sentiment is probably attributable to a confluence of factors – mostly work related but including contributors such as having a new house built. So i kind of know what’s wrong and to some degree the possible actions to take. Things such as these are quite painstakingly obvious but the real rub is getting from the” inertial” comfort of knowing the answer to getting off my ar*e and doing something meaningful about it.

For now, i am deliberately trying to be conscious of my actions and thoughts. Whether this is a sufficient start is debatable (and i would argue variable from person to person) does not concern me as much as if this can be effective and ultimately sustainable. Clearly theres is a need to take matters in hand. Worst case, i will just have to resort to thinking happy thoughts – something i’ve never been quite accustomed to: only 14 more months until a proper holiday!