Lessons I Learned By Flying

Slam Dunk

I used to be able to dunk a basketball.

This is way more remarkable to me than the fact that Tom Brady could have played baseball for a living. Yanno, instead of marrying a Brazilian supermodel.

Seriously though, Brady is a top tier athlete whose ability to excel at multiple sports (including being married to a Brazilian supermodel) isn’t all that unbelievable. Whereas my ability to throw down a regulation sized basketball through a regulation sized basketball hoop . . makes no fucking sense whatsoever.

Brady Expos

If you saw me play basketball in high school, you’d understand what I’m talking about. My skill set consisted of free throw shooting and flirting with cheerleaders. I shot a solid eighty five percent from the charity stripe, while my luck with the cheerleaders wasn’t nearly as impressive.

That’s where dunking came in to play. I figured that my ability to slam home two points would allow my coach to call off the search party for yours truly. So I underwent a rather arduous ‘flight training’ program. It consisted of running, squats, dead lifts, skipping rope and downing a couple raw eggs every morning. The eggs weren’t going to make one bit of difference as far as achieving my goal was concerned, but I’d seen Rocky Balboa do it and it seemed like the kind of miserable shit a true athlete would subject himself to, so there’s that.

My ability to perform the slam dunk wasn’t a linear progression. I kept to the workouts, but I quit playing basketball seeing as how my jump shot was killer . . . unless someone was defending it. Football was a much better idea since I actually had some skills catching the pigskin and was fearless (stupid) when going over the middle. And as it turned out, cheerleaders dig the touchdown catch.

White Men Can't Jump

So it happened one day when playing a pick basketball game with friends in at Beach Channel High School that I slammed one down. It felt as if I’d just planted my Pumas on the moon; and unlike the Disney sponsored moon landing in 1969, this one was for reals.

This white boy had jump. I was a Galileo science project in rewind, with the most obtrusive entry point to the ring of fire this side of an earthquake. In other words, it wasn’t Dominique Wilkins I was flashing when I reached up to the heavens. There was no art to my form, only prayers and dumb luck. And practice, lots of it.

I recalled this magical moment whilst shooting hoops recently. While my set shot can still cook in fits and starts and my free show shooting finds that same old rhythm, my jump done left the building. I wouldn’t be able to slam home a basketball nowadays without a ladder, a priest and an EMT in attendance. And that’s okay, because that wheelhouse of a long lost time gave way to other athletic pursuits. Each with specific challenges whose obstacles appealed to me as worthwhile challenges.

Arriving At One Goal

When my jump stopped going vertical, I didn’t cry about it. I simply fused that splintered energy into lateral spins rather than vertical leaps. Skiing, rock climbing, running and martial arts to name a few.ย These were endeavors that my younger self never would have imagined getting into, much less loving. Looking back, the idea of gaining four feet didn’t seem audacious in the least. It simply allowed me the chance to feel as if I could do anything I set my mind to if I practiced hard and never stopped believing the rim was a proper destination.

As it turns out, that jump never left. It simply changed zip codes.

 

44 thoughts on “Lessons I Learned By Flying”

    1. I wouldn’t call it beautiful, lol. Breathtaking, yeah . . I’d go there. However, it was breathtaking as in . . you take a deep breath whilst I’m airborne and hope that nothing breaks upon the landing.
      Jump shots were easier, but the slam dunk was a much more enjoyable pursuit.

      Liked by 2 people

  1. B,
    Boy oh boy… do I ever know what you’re talking about. Figure skating, track and field (was able to Fosbury Flop my height! K… no big whup in today’s standards but still), volleyball – spike that sucker way over the net! Now? Can I at least have a hand above?), gymnastics – somersault and back flips, baby! Today? I’ll attempt a handstand – against a wall…
    Like you, I never, EVER thought of do martial arts and love it…
    Sadly my athletic prowess has become a walk around the park, an occasional hike up a mountain…

    Impressed by those who still can,
    Q

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Q,

      I knew you would understand this on that level. And nooooo! Your athletic prowess is buried under an avalanche of real life concerns at the moment. But you’re always an athlete, and I can testify that you got plenty of game on that front. Nah, you’ll find your niche and kick your as per usual ass with whatever you endeavor to do. I know it, sure as sunshine, I do.
      And thank you for getting that my initial post finagling was a not so great idea. I realize I gave you the postmortem on it, but still . . reading your emphatic agreement with said point. It helps. Immensely.

      To the jump!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Of course I understand. I think, once athletic, always athletic… by nature, if not as much by skill ๐Ÿ˜‰
        And please, my prowess is buried as deep as my abs – the ones you can’t see coz they’ve a layer of lard protecting, ’em ๐Ÿ˜‰
        All jokes aside, I am not one who will be opposed to an informal game of volleyball on the beach, or touch football or even baseball (have I ever? not sure – and no, I don’t throw like a girl). But better yet a hike up Mount Washington. Jeez.. you’ve suddenly given me an urge to go out and DO something!

        Not saying don’t do it… just saying, if you don’t feel comfortable expressing yourself about it, then wait till the words come.

        Jump! As high as our knees allow us…

        Liked by 1 person

      2. It’s funny, but the athleticism I USED to exhibit will come through in snippets. An at bat in a softball game here, a tight spiral there and a rainbow jumper sprinkled on top. And it all feels as if it happened five minutes ago. Until the next morning, at which point it feels as if I’m Nosferatu fishing on the Equator.
        Doing something is doing anything to which you feel. And I do mean anything. Differently, but with that very same kick- if only in spirit.

        Jump like House of Pain just made the scene and they’re firing up the turntable!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I know EXACKERY what you mean! Woot! I still got it… this is great… did you see that spike? Did you see the force of that throw?… next morning… what the fuck? Why do I hurt. Everywhere?
        Yes… doing something. Anything. Full spiritedly… ๐Ÿ˜‰

        Liked by 1 person

  2. my husband always notes to people how hard it is to dunk – so when I read that you mastered that – woo hoo – I knew the big deal it was.

    I also liked the tom brady card (who knew!!) and then the Dewy quote – and swift of you to end with Van Halen’s Jump….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Prior,

      Your comment went to my spam folder for some reason, so apologies for the lateness of this reply.
      Yes, I do miss that verticality. Especially considering as how I was NOT the typical dunker. I was clumsy with zero coordination. So being able to dunk a basketball was a big deal. It taught me what practice means, and how much can be accomplished in the unseen hours when you dedicate yourself to something. It was a good lesson.
      Your hubs knows the deal! ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks for rescuing my comment – and for the reply –
        Did you know that Michael Jordan’s mom p salt in his shoes when he was young and playing with the older kids –

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Oh wait – I meant I would try and find the viral video – it is old and it is something like why is James sad – and something like everyone is always dunking on him ?

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Duuuuude I knew you had those Gatorade-worthy-moment skills still hiding away. I totally get it … I never mastered the dunk in my hoop days but no one would be dunking on me thatโ€™s for sure ๐Ÿ™‚ but youโ€™re right on point, your skills go beyond the court once you get older. I thought Iโ€™d be Hoop Dreams forever, I never imagined Iโ€™d be dabbing in triathlons, MuayThai boxing or Ninja Warrior obstacles … but here I am … making lateral moves and itโ€™s all good. Youโ€™re making the move annnnnnd you can still catch air and dunk. Duuuuude high five ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Cali,
      Hey now . . my skills ain’t “hiding” so much as abiding. They ain’t chillin’ so much as thrillin’. They ain’t . . . okay, I’ll stop, LOL.
      You are much too humble. Your mad skills (z) are always a treat to read up on. You go three sports deep inside the SAME DAY! That there is drop the mike stuff, so hat tip to ya.

      High five sistah!

      Liked by 1 person

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