What does depression feel like?

Maybe it’s just mental fatigue. Of throwing yourself over and over again at an endless wave of obstacles, challenges, things to do, that seemingly require more and more energy to accomplish.

Everyone recharges, but maybe the battery just decides to run flat one day. And you’re left there, empty and exhausted.

And you wonder – why am I trying so hard? What’s the whole point of this? Why is life so hard?

That’s probably why talking about shit that goes on in life is important – venting helps one recharge and let go of that negative energy, and move on to the next day.

What do dreams actually mean?

A badly woven tapestry. Lingering phantasms, long-forgotten thoughts, that stealthily creep into a mind otherwise occupied?

An alternate reality, a parallel universe, where maybe, is how it’s meant to be?

Simple chemicals, mixing their magic, firing neurons otherwise? Invisible fireworks, stirring the imagination into a miasma of furious activity?

It truly makes one wonder.

And then I wake up, and look around. Everything is, as it should be. And I’m content once again.

I bid a fond farewell to those unbridled fantasies. Adieu, until our next sojourn. May the dream run its full course, come into full fruition, and its true measure. Show me the impossible, what reality deems an impasse.

The speech I’d like to give some day.

7 November in 2015, turned out to be quite a remarkable day.

One of my best friends got married at long last, and my brother finally took that big step and moved out into his own apartment today.

Funny how shower thoughts work, but the two storylines became an amalgam while I was unwinding from the day. What would I say, if I had to give a speech at my brother’s wedding?

Some things come to mind.

In our younger days, I had to get down to school every evening and bring him home. He did a runner one time and I was scared shitless because I couldn’t find him anywhere in school. He turned out to be at the nearby convenience store, bawling his eyes out and trying to ring home.

Ice cream solves a lot of problems when you’re a kid, one of them being crying. It also sidestepped the minor inconvenience of me facing hell at home, had my mum known I’d nearly lost her younger son right then. It’s still a very important lesson I hold dear, now that I have my own kids.

That got better, as he got older. I remember shadowing him from a distance after school to make sure he got home the right way, and checked the roads for traffic before he crossed. Just to be sure.

Growing up has been a long and bumpy process for this fellow.

My brother tends to think with his heart more than his brain a lot of days – he dives into things headlong, smashes into brick walls before he learns, and experiments too much. I call him a floating cloud. That being said, he can never be faulted for not caring, because he does.

I know of a lot of siblings who never got along really well. Stan and I, never really had that problem, especially as he got into his teens and beyond. We spent a lot of time together as we got older and we would talk. It would be me strolling into his room at random, or us just getting a bite of supper together. We yakked about everything and anything, from music to books to manga to work to #lifeprotips, and obviously girls too.

He’s not perfect, but the one thing about this guy is, he might not understand, but he always listens, with the goal of getting better every day. That’s a good thing in my books, and all I can say is, I’m really proud to have him as my brother. My mum says he’s like a son to me, and in some ways, he really is. I’ve shared so much of my thoughts and experiences with him over these years, and have been a major influence on his life, it’d be a lie if I said I wasn’t pleased with the way the boy’s become a man who thinks on his feet and knows to plan, and is obviously the life of the party all the time. Never seen that before? You obviously have never seen the drunk version of Stan the Man.

Would I do anything for him? Yes. There wouldn’t even be a moment’s hesitation between the question and my answer. There’s nothing to explain, it’s just how it is.

And this day, I couldn’t be happier with the way things have turned out. May the happy couple have a long and blissful journey ahead, and to my sister-in-law: you chose… wisely. That’s an Indiana Jones reference by the way.

Stolen moments

The human mind as usual, is complex.

My own mind, burns with cold logic and rationality on most days, and stays insufferably confused in that minority, when muddled emotions skitter around in an uncertain manner.

Reading old diary entries makes me realise again, just exactly how much one’s memories fade over the years. The present is moulded by decisions from the past, and it’s fascinating to see how unconscious habits of today were consciously shaped by decisions I made so long ago.

Take for instance, the way I stylise a particular name on the annual birthday cards. I’d always assumed it was a whimsical thing I did on the fly, but the entry I reread last night, makes it clear that I’d actually given thought into the initial design, a good twenty years ago. I’m mildly impressed with 17 year old me.

“But one thing that really captivates me is her smile. Or her laugh, for that matter. Watching her really makes me forget my own problems.”

Of course, nothing ever goes quite the way we want it to, especially the tender unrequited dreams of youth. We’ve all grown up and moved on, and life continues at its own pace.

At the same time, I guess some things never really change.

I told Stan about my theory the other day, about how one’s spouse is never the perfect half, the romantic “You complete me” moment of realisation we hear about in Hollywood, when one person finds his soulmate. I’ve never quite had that, and I suspect most other people don’t. I make it work by spending time with other wonderful souls, those lovely people that complete me in their own special way.

To be clear, I’m not alluding to any form of physical communion –too much of that excessively principled boy who’s always fearful of doing the wrong thing, remains in me to ever attempt something fatally irresponsible– but rather something more spiritual. It’s the simple joys of enjoying each other’s company. The warmth of reunion in a hug. Reliving shared memories, ranting about life. The fun in singing a duet just right. The pleasure of sharing good food together. Smiling at old punchlines, or that well-remembered pout that makes me fondly smile. The satisfaction of a deep conversation, something that goes beyond the usual banal topics. Being able to trust and confide, share little secrets you can’t tell anyone else. Chuckling at a good joke you can both appreciate equally well. Looking into someone’s eyes and just listening, without judging. Being able to agree at times, disagree at others, and also share a viewpoint without being overly insistent on being right. Laughter and smiles, thoughtful gestures, simple yet priceless gifts I hold so dear.

I call them stolen moments, a reprieve from my daily grind.

Honestly, I count myself a lucky man. Most married men never get the luxury of having relationships like these. They devote themselves to their other half, and that’s that.

I have an understanding spouse, two children who have turned out pretty well so far, a decent job, and life in a country I’ve always hoped to live in someday.

And I have these other people I share something special with.

Life is never simple, isn’t it? I feel like I’m in one of the best situations I could have ever hoped for, but yet I dream about something that will never come into being. The only time I can consummate such fancies, is in the hidden domain of my nocturnal dreams, where I can live out those irrational lives and pretend it is all real. Just for those brief moments.

I remain thankful of their presences in my life, and will do all I can to keep things as they are.

It doesn’t stop those dreams, however. And I suspect it never quite will.

If my kids ever read this, just know that I kept my old diaries, so that you can read them and perhaps gain a measure of understanding about how your father was like, and how his thoughts shaped the person he eventually came to be.

Signing off in the manner of old, NMTR.

(No More To wRite. Why the R, and not a W, young me?)

17 Nov 2018, on board a flight home.

Getting things done: a self-fulfilling cycle of energy

The hardest step, as always is the first one.

Once you start on it though, the drive and momentum to get things done grows with every passing task completed.

I’m not sure about everyone else, but personally, I feel burdened and drained when I know there are too many things to be done. Ticking them off my list, gives me a sense of accomplishment and energy to get onto the next one. Otherwise, I slump in a puddle of ineptitude and sloth.

KEEP PUSHING!

The journalism grind is real.

This is nothing new, but seeing as the topic has been a recurring theme all day long, so I’d figured I might as well put all of these together.

Firstly, via the Locked on Celtics podcast (21 Jul), by John Karalis and Jay King. These guys are two of my favourite Celtic writers, especially Jay in his early days with CelticsTown.

Little side story: John probably doesn’t remember this, but I reached out to him for advice on Twitter DM back in 2012, when I was starting out.

In his words: “It’s a lot of hard work but if you’re dedicated you will be fine.”

He wasn’t kidding about hard work. I’ve kept his words in mind throughout these years running The Pick and Roll, through all those long nights. Hard work, check. Dedicated, definitely check.

Jay on the other hand, offered some really good advice on what to expect, when I checked in with him prior to my first game under media credentials – always very thankful for that.

Back to the podcast. Jay was talking about how he got to where he is now with MassLive, and ended the tale with some advice:

“… that’s the really lucky story of how I got to where I am now. If you want advice, the only thing I’ll say is work don’t be afraid to write for free, you have to to get your name out there, write for blogs. Just build up your resume and keep working as hard as you can.”

John pretty much agreed, and expanded on the thought.

“I would say the same thing. Nowadays, there is such an advantage… This is a very competitive field, and covering sports has so many similarities to playing sports. Where it’s hyper-competitive, there are limited spots, there are millions of people who want to get those limited spots.

… If you’re listening, trying to start your career in this: Jay is absolutely right. work work work work work work. Do a lot of work. Write. Start a blog. Write for a blog. Ask to join a blog… get paid nothing. Or get paid a little bit – it’s easier when you’re younger, and you don’t know what it’s like to have money, so you can go and piece together a career, by writing for – three hours on one site, and two hours on another site, and three hours on another site. You get your name out there, and you learn. You submit your stuff to editors, they will make corrections, you look at what the corrections are, and then you do it.

… If you can understand that you don’t know everything, then you’re a pretty damn smart person. Because that allows you to take in suggestions, and work those into your professional life and the things that you do on a daily basis, and then you personally will become better, at whatever it is you do.”

Jay rounded it off with this:

“Opportunities are tough, tough tough tough tough in this business, but just keep working until you get it, and prepare yourself for the opportunity.”

Then, from Jalen Rose on the Jalen & Jacoby Show (20 July):

“And you know what gets lost amongst those that become successful? All the sacrifices and discipline that they had to endure, in order to get to that point.

Like people we joke a lot about this show, about us not doing any work, or things of that nature. But you don’t get to this point if you don’t decide to outwork people.”

See a recurring theme here?

I was shown this article later in the day, and Robert Silverman made perfect sense.

There are just too many people out there who love watching games and think that with a bit of luck and a lot of bootstrap-pulling they could become the next Bill Simmons or Zach Lowe or any number of guys who started out as mere bloggers and are now considered leading lights in the industry.

Writing takes discipline. It takes commitment. But even when you check the boxes, it isn’t as easy as that. You need to differentiate yourself by getting ahead of the average writer who doesn’t have a unique voice. You need to get lucky, you need to know people – pick two of three. But before all of that, the basic criteria comes down to this: plain hard work.

And this quote from Matt Moore (love the guy) just hit the spot, right there. Right up my alley.

Moore: Write. Write all the time. The best thing you can do to make yourself better is to write about as many things as possible. It helps with honing what you do, it helps with building an audience, and it helps with figuring what you do well and what you enjoy doing.

Maybe you don’t like doing play breakdowns but you love esoteric discussion. Maybe you’re not crazy about cap talk but you get really into X’s and O’s. And the only way to keep yourself as part of the discussion is to write. When I was supremely frustrated with my inability to get a gig in late 2009 (AFTER ONLY TWO YEARS WRITING!), Tom Ziller gave me some great advice. Quit whining and write. What you’re doing isn’t enough? Write more. Because that’s the only thing you can control.

I’ve always maintained that the only thing you can control in any situation is yourself. You can’t control the opportunities that happen, you can only make the best with what you have, and stay prepared for anything that comes by. What you get is proportional to what you invest – the harder you work, the more you’ll get out of it. Be it an improved voice, consistent writing, or simply an expanded audience, something will fall through.

Basically: never get discouraged. Keep grinding, until something good happens. If you don’t prove your worth, nothing is going to ever happen. Only by consistently proving your value, developing your voice, and expanding your network, do you have a shot at making something happen.

Yes, journalism is a grind. It’s tough to even get your foot in the door, and it takes a crazy amount of effort when you’re actually working. It’s exciting as hell, it’s never boring, and it does sap the life out of you. But if you’re ready to put your money where your mouth is, you do it.

Don’t get envious. Don’t get down. Get even.

 

Worrying.

“Worrying is like paying a debt you don’t owe.” – Mark Twain.

A rather pointless exercise, but one most of us can’t help doing. I live by a simple axiom that limits the amount of worrying I do.

If there is anything I can do to influence the outcome, it stays on my mind.

image

If things are out of my control? I stop worrying. The. End.