Tuesday, January 20, 2015
The Power of Vision, the power of imagining what could be possible.
When I set my sights on something, I will go through hell and high water to get what I want. For those of you who know me will say that I am more than determined to get that something. My sisters called it being spoiled. Maybe they are right, but usually I am willing to do whatever it takes get that something, and I don’t think of that as being spoiled.
But once I get a picture in my mind, it’s like catching a whiff of something and my taste buds won’t be satisfied with replacements.
Typically, the power of imagining the possible involves sports. I’ve been trying to use it for other things, like my writing.
This is my attempt at doing such.
When I am able to capture a Polaroid picture of what I could be, this motivates me to make that picture come to life.
Imagine a movie where the soldier pulls out a picture of his bride, his girl, his child, and then imagine that this image drives the soldier to fight as hard as he or she can. Maybe the image determines whether the soldier even makes it back home.
The Power of Vision is extraordinary; it’s the backbone of ingenuity and the creative process. Most people who create or invent things have a resemblance of what they are making before they even start to create. Sometimes it’s just a vague idea.
I’m certainly not going to compare my visions with those of a soldier who is praying to return to loved ones, but both share the desire to do more than merely survive.
The Power of Vision has allowed, is allowing me, to see my life in the future and help me to map out the steps that I need to get from Point A to Point B. If you Build It, They Will Come. It’s more than that. If I can see it, I can do it is closer to the idea I’m trying to get across.
The Power of Vision allows me to imagine a finished product and then imagine what I need to get it done. Once I know what I want, I can set goals and get the ball rolling so to speak.
I’m starting to think that the image of the solder and loved ones isn’t such a good idea and I hope it doesn’t come back to bite me because there’s no way I want to leave an impression that my silly little story is comparable. Readers, don’t be too harsh on me for using this metaphor.
Perhaps because I’m such a competitive person, when I envision myself playing a sport, I create the biggest stage that I can play on. In my version of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, I beat Bobby Orr and Phil Esposito in a two on one at the Boston Garden. Doesn’t get any sweeter than that. Unless you are a girl and aren’t supposed to be playing hockey. I suspect that many of the girls on the Waltham Angels, later to become the Waltham Wings, had similar fantasies of skating circles around a pro, and we had the players that could have given a professional a run for their money. I immediately think about Amy Crafts and her defensive Prowess.
I love the following quote that Phil Esposito had about scoring since he was such a prolific scorer for the Boston Bruins:
“Scoring is easy. You simply stand in the slot, take your beating and shoot the puck into the net.” (McDonell, Chris. Hockey’s Greatest Stars, page 15.) Isn’t that a little bit like life?
The power of having a vision that I could beat two of the greatest hockey players didn’t get me onto a Boston Bruin team. It didn’t give me the opportunity to play for the Stanley Cup. The power of this vision did, however, allow me to squeeze every ounce of joy out of the experiences I had playing hockey.
Even though I clocked a lot of time practicing and conditioning, skated a million miles, hockey never was my strongest suit. Sitting in the penalty box didn’t help matters, but that’s a different story for a different time.
But I did try, and I worked hard at being the best I could. Sometimes even with a lot of work, there’s no guarantee that perfection comes along with that vision, but it sure is a lot of fun to try.
After hanging up my skates and making the move from Boston to the Pacific Northwest, I left the images behind of who I thought I was so I could start to create better images. I’m definitely not the same person I was almost thirty years ago.
I turned to bowling when I moved to Eugene. Ten Pin Bowling. I wanted to create community since the only person that I knew was my best friend, Heidee. I thought that bowling would be a great way to meet new people, create new connections.
Bowling had all of the ingredients to become one of being my most favorite activity. It didn’t hurt that beer was the common denominator for all Bowling Alleys. It was social, which isn’t a huge big deal, but it’s something. It was competitive, which is critical in my life. It was something that pushed me to become better, though drove me would be more accurate.
Similarly to hockey, I wasn’t very good. I threw a back up ball, which wasn’t viewed as good. It’s right up there with the derogatory phrase of “she throws like a girl,” though now that we’ve seen a girl with a 70 mph fastball pitch in the Little League World Series, that phrase isn’t as negative as it used to be.
My visions of being a better bowler took hold and Determination kicked me in the butt to get moving.
To make a long story short, my determination gave me the will to practice. At one point, I was bowling a hundred games a week. My right thumb was so fat from use, it could have been mistaken for a big toe. I bowled so much that my blisters had blisters. Sometimes my right thumb resembled hamburger. Raw. Bloody. Painful.
I was bowling in the Gay Games in Vancouver. Don’t ask me the year as that was at least a life time ago. This was my first tournament. And what an amazing experience. Kate Clinton was the MC of the Games and she had me laughing so hard. But being my first tournament and still a fairly new bowler, I was as nervous as a dog waiting for the Vet.
But when I amazingly advanced from the first round, I was thrilled beyond words. I hadn’t imagined this since this outcome was the furthest from my imagination.
Remember that big toe-like thumb? By the time the next round came about, my thumb was in very sorry shape. As I got ready to bowl, I was chatting with another bowler. Skeeter from Washington. Skeeter and her partner saw my horrific thumb and helped me out. Skeeter, you must realize, was an opponent; she didn’t have to help me. I suspect most athletes wouldn’t have.
Skeeter introduced me to the nasty chemical concoction of New Skin. For a few bucks, I could repair my thumb as if I were fixing a flat tire. First you spread this clear gunk on your open wound. The first time I felt the stinging sensation, I probably swore loudly. I do recall putting some on the thumb of a junior bowler I was coaching and the kid started to cry. Because of the alcohol, it burned my eyes as well. You didn’t have to be very far from a bowler to realize that they were patching a thumb or finger.
There was a little patch that would go on, like very thin gauze and then you would paint another layer of New Skin, though the second round wasn’t nearly as painful. I later learned that if it wasn’t drying fast enough, a tad bit of fire would dry it faster. I never did get used to that method.
Thank you Skeeter for saving the day.
Where was I? Power of the image. I didn’t do the best during the Gay Games, but the success helped make the image clearer, the determination stronger. My imagination of possibilities was growing leaps and bounds.
Aside from practicing, I devoted myself to Ten Pin Bowling as if it were my new religion. On Sundays I view the bowling alley as my church. Seven days a week I invested time. I studied. I took notes. I filmed myself. I read books. I went to classes. I got coaches. I coached. I refused to fail, though mostly I refused to let failure stop me.
My ability started to increase. One goal was to raise my average every year. I also told myself that once my average starts to drop, that would be my sign to change the channel. I guess I was lying. Even though its excruciating on my back, I’ve not been able to step away from the sport.
And so for several years, I inched my way up the ladder. In Eugene there’s a place called Firs Bowl; it was my main base. I rented multiple lockers to store multiple bowling balls. I figured out that if stacked correctly, I could get four bowling balls into a single locker. When tournaments rolled around, I would haul all of my empty bags to the bowling alley to pick up the ten or so bowling balls I would take to the tournament. Good thing they invented bowling ball bags with wheels; that saved me from a lot of unnecessary lifting. It was bad enough that each ball weighed fifteen pounds. My Subaru Forrester transported a lot of weight.
The funny thing about having visions of being better at something is that it forces me to let go of old visions. I remember how excited I was to get my first two hundred, my first five hundred series, my first six hundred series, my first seven hundred series, my first perfect game. With every first, the excitement started to fade. The other day, a good friend of mine, Bill, asked me what I would have to bowl to feel satisfied. The game has to be over a two hundred and I’d have to have a six hundred. Anything less was anticlimactic.
During my early years of infatuation, I used to go to watch some of the better women in Eugene bowl. I was still at the point where a 150 probably excited me, but I couldn’t understand how some of the bowlers would get so disgusted with themselves for a sub two hundred game. I witnessed way too many men throw temper tantrums if they didn’t get a strike or if they missed a spare.
I remember asking one bowler, one of the best in the history of Eugene Women’s bowling, what kind of series she had that particular night, and Karen said, “Just a six hundred.” When I heard her say this, I was dumbfounded. I hadn’t had a six hundred series years; that was my mountain to climb. Yet for Karen and many other high performing bowlers, a six hundred brought no satisfaction to them.
I did say that I was going to make this short story long, didn’t I? I’m already looking at the longest blog that I’ve ever written. I am curious to hear how many people make it through the entire story. (Can you hear the begging in my voice?)
I even use the Power of the Image to become a better bowler simply by imagining. Visualization. It doesn’t take a physical action to create muscle-memory. Seeing a flawless approach. Viewing the path that the ball must take to hit the sweet spot called a pocket didn’t require a ball, a lane, or pins. It just took closing my eyes. Over and over, I would imagine hitting my target and see pins explode, shatter all over the deck of the lanes, especially when the game is on the line.
The Power of those visions allowed me to grow. Each year I got better. Each year I learned something new. And I never cut myself slack. It didn’t matter that I was constantly traveling, sacrificed friendships, though many new ones were created on the lanes.
The climb wasn’t always easy. Sometimes I would show up to bowl and the Susan that didn’t know how to bowl would bowl in my stead and I’d finish dead last. That happened more than once or twice. But that didn’t slow me down. I have this philosophy that all good gardens need fertilizer, and shitty bowling was just that. Failure only fueled the fire to return to the drawing board and try, try again.
The Power of the Image has me sitting on my green comfy recliner writing these words with the picture that some one may be reading this way too long blog. Hopefully it’s been a good read. If so, please let me know.
At least with bowling, when I throw a gutter ball, I know that I sucked, but when I write and I’m the only one that reads it, I have no clue whether I hit a strike or a gutter ball.