Dribbling a basketball serves as a wonderful life metaphor. It begins with potential energy converting into kinetic energy when we apply force. That force collides with a surface and Newton’s 3rd law enters: for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.
When practiced with patience and desire, this fundamental skill becomes part of our muscle memory. In other words: control is in our hands. We use our potential wisely so that it works for us. When standing still, dribbling is fairly effortless once our controlled initial force is applied. The ball returns, and we begin this rhythmic, graceful dance between wrist, floor and the space between.
However, this action gets complicated when we want to move, especially when we encounter obstacles. Therefore, we must learn to accept that spending the required time on the fundamentals is essential, so that when we choose to move, we can do so with the same control we have whilst standing still. We often get caught up being concerned about learning more, consuming as much new information and skill acquisition as possible as a means of taking leaps forward or to be flashy, instead of focusing on the basics. When we approach life in this manner, we rely more on luck than preparation. Practicing the fundamentals teaches us how to pivot with control and grace.
We can only be as self-aware as our most obvious weakness.
Equanimity is defined as “mental calmness, composure, and evenness of temper, especially in a difficult situation.” It’s the last part of that definition that we tend to struggle with most in the moment. When we complain about something, that’s a sign that whatever is happening is stirring up something emotional in us. Let us not forget that this emotional response is signaling that something in us needs to change – likely our perspective. It’s foolish to expect that something or someone else is going to change simply because it/they bother us.
Indifference is commonly defined as “lack of interest, concern, or sympathy,” or “unimportance.” These definitions, however, seem to skew more negative than their Latin origin, indifferentia, which translates to “being neither good nor bad.” The adage, “It is what it is” is a colloquialism of what it means to be indifferent. There’s a good deal of sound mindedness in being indifferent to what happens. It’s taking the perspective that things happen opposed to thinking that things happen to us. If we have this mindset, we are free to use our reasoned choice in how we react to what happened. How many happenings we tend to miss whilst being blinded by our investigations into “who’s to blame?”
What angers us and frustrates us is predictable. Take a page from Abraham Lincoln’s practice of writing letters to people who upset him or he passionately disagreed with, yet had the presence of mind to never send. In order to get past intense emotions we cannot choose to ignore them. We must first choose to honor them, sit with them as a means of better understanding their origin. Then, we have the choice of how to proceed. Better to lash out in an unsent letter than spending our days living with the fallout of our irrational emotional responses.
It must take great effort to maintain a disingenuous public image. Think of how much stress and anxiety is reduced by simply being who we are? Not trying to present ourselves as what we think others expect us to be! It may seem scary to live life with a “warts and all” approach, but within that humility lies the sincerity on which true connection is formed. Being human is not meant to be spectacular on a daily basis. A magician uses misdirection to fool the audience. As the audience, we are amazed whilst also knowing we’re being fooled. That’s the entertainment of magic. Our lives, however, are not entertainment.
When we care enough about ourselves, something else or someone else, there is no predetermined quota for improvement. If we care, we do. And, we will continue to do until better than good enough is achieved.