Warning – this is a long one… Proceed with caution… and probably caffeine.
At our wedding my Mum gave a gorgeous speech that praised me far more than I deserved. She shared the tale of how my gentle giantness was commendable as a mother, but useless as a basketball coach. She required ruthless killers on the court and I resembled a pillow full of ducklings softly sleeping on a bed of daisies.
During my comical basketball years at one of the many games we were losing, she gave me the hard word.
“Come on, amp up your aggression and get some fight in you girl! Stop being so nice, they’re not your mates.”
Problem was everyone was my mate, aggression wasn’t really my thing and competitiveness on any level was something I learned at a very young age to stay far the hell away from. Not because of any other reason than I was in tune with who I was and who I was knew my limitations. Winning was never a priority. I was a loser, but a refreshingly friendly one.
Our team had come second last on the ladder for nearly five years running and I could have cared less. I was the leader of an amazing bunch of misfits and it became like some weird badge of honour to be the fck ups of the competition. We knew we were shit and yet we rocked up season after season to have the utter piss pummeled out of us and still smiled. Still tried. Still fought. Still lost.
We were from an old club that was ready to fold and the constant underdogs, yet we were present no matter what. It took a certain type of stamina and gumption to walk amongst the heavily funded teams and not be affected by the tone of the day. This was an elitey era. The win-at-all-costs late 80s/early 90s cut throat, high-life Wolf of Wall Street vibes that occasionally trickled like venom into their children.
Our team of misfits did not remotely fit the mould. I was simultaneously intimidated and exhilarated by the lot of it, and there is nothing more liberating than having bogans for allies. They not only lift you up to warrior status – they’ll go into battle if you need them to – which thankfully I never did, but the psycho sentiment was always appreciated.
We couldn’t beat them on the court, but we could shit on them socially. We laughed louder, swung our pony tails higher and had a ball. We were fun. We were likable and loved everyone. We were so uncaring of our shoddy status – that by today’s standards – we were pretty cool in a nothing-to-lose-bogan-chic kind of way.
Problem was – none of that won games.
One match day – by some miracle, perhaps the other team all had the flu, we actually had a chance of winning a game. Unfortunately, I had possession of the ball and it was nowhere near the key and no one was close enough for me to wuss out and pass it off. This was the worse possible predicament for the shittest dribbler on the planet. Mum’s comfortless words echoed off the asbestos stadium walls.
“DRIBBLE THE BLOODY BALL!!”
I did something resembling what a bull does before he charges and confidently dribbled down the court on the home stretch. My player pressed back, but I was beating her. I loathed every moment, but I was succeeding.
Sadly, like most triumphs I deemed unsustainable, I got inside my head and my “moment” was very short lived.
She was an actual champion.
I was only a champions daughter playing dress up.
So like a freshly birthed water buffalo my competitive/aggressive/offensive streak came crashing down in a gooey, slippery aftermath as I took the ball, myself, my dignity and the player down in a comedy of errors of the limbed-challenged variety. Twas most ugly.
Never one to wallow publically for too long, I hauled myself up from the wreckage and reached down to help the princess. She looked at me like I was deranged. I checked my hand for leprosy and offered it again.
“I’m so sorry,” I said assisting her to her feet.
The crowd screamed.
My mother clutched her heart through a barrage of abuse.
I gave her a Forrest Gump wave, wondering what all the fuss was about.
The ball was still next to me and the game was still in play. All I was missing was a bucked tooth and some drool to complete my supreme dimness.
“What’s wrong with you?” the player questioned through a mouth of orthodontic work worth more than my parents, my grandparents and my great grandparents houses combined. She scowled indignantly, reached for the ball and scored the 2 points that won them the game. I was still reeling from the teeth. That shit glowed.
Mum however was just plain old intolerably pissed by my unexplainable niceness. She and every dumbfounded spectator who witnessed the debacle were clueless as to why I would constantly sacrifice my own glory and that of the team, to protect the enemy from my self-diagnosed gross motor dexterity disorder.
It’s easy now to admit it was completely fear based. I was getting in before they could misinterpret my honest lack of skills for rough play and would do anything to avoid whatever those misconstrued consequences could potentially entail.
I played for my high school team only one time because of this very issue.
It had been drilled into me from the age of 7 to use my elbows and bum like weapons. It became the most natural thing for me to do whenever I got the ball, especially as it gave me time to assess how the eff I was going to make it to the other end of the court with the least amount of dribbling, travelling, fouling, fumbling, physical or psychological injury. We wore bloomers. So many variables for literally muffing up.
So I put my training into practice during this match. Wings out like a pterodactyl I pivoted like a warrior with a clue, shunting my brazen booty as far as it could shunt – which was far. I was trying to be brave. I knew the second I laid eyes on the team and the umpire that the game was going to be rough, but nothing prepared me for what was coming. High school basketball was a level of negligence I was unaccustomed too. The crappest umpiring that nobody questioned, teenage coaches who didn’t want to be there and a girls competition nobody gave a shit about because, well – girls.
The opposition team embodied a rather hefty wrong side of the tracks vibe and misinterpreted my decent skills as an attack on them all. They happily shared their thoughts on the topic in the change rooms after the match with their very interactive, wolf-packy, literal blow by blow presentation on The Many Uses of Elbows.
“Like to jab people in the ribs do you c*#t.”
“How do you like it now, fCking fat slag,” they spat and repeatedly smashed me with their pointy bones into the cement floor.
Suffice to say if I’d been aloud to respond I would have politely informed them,
“Nay ladies. I can’t say I’m particularly fond of your interpretation on basketball defence. Please remove your vile talons from my supple flubber and crawl back to the witch rock asylum you presumably all escaped from.”
Which would’ve got teenage me killed, but adult me would’ve applauded such a florally clap back.
Problem is when you’re adult height before you’ve even hit puberty and everyone else is smaller, scrawnier and a thousand times more spry and nimble and you play a sport that is conspiring against nice, uncoordinated, awkward, gorky teenagers – your confidence gets a little battered. Well mine did.
But this is not a boo hoo.
So I developed strategies on how to avoid these situations of potential danger and humiliation. Every time I stepped on a toe, or got a finger caught in a pony tail, or ribbed someone a little too hard I would apologise and make it very clear how remorseful I was.
The champions thought I was weak. The other uncos thought I was fake. The team thought I was weird. The parents thought I was ridiculous. My dad thought I could do better and in the end as patient as that woman was, I think my poor Mum was just disappointed. The lack of competitive drive that had made her a champion – had sadly skipped a generation. She never let on though, continuing to lift my lost cause up week after week for years and drilling into me – I could be a champion at anything if I just believed and worked hard. Sadly I never believed, but she never gave up on me. Legend.
Now married and surrounded by loved ones – the sweet reminiscent light on my former character as an all round nice guy – if not a severely stupid one – was touching, yet foreign. I realised that the no nonsense bad ass I had become didn’t really relate to that gentle giant anymore. As most people who were bullied or lacked confidence in their youth, I’d developed some serious layers and a myriad of masks to protect me from appearing that weak ever again. I was an avoidance queen.
That was over ten years ago.
Now I’m at an age where I’m reaping the benefits of all those shitty hardships. It was all part of the long road that bought me to a foolproof ethos of – Do I give a fucketh – No I really do not.
For me the one thing I tried to avoid for decades ironically became my biggest blessing. Humiliation. Constant. Humiliation. Thank goodness I wasn’t in those teams that creamed every game and wiped the floor of everyone they came up against. Their holier than thou attitude must have been exhausting to maintain and my best memories of competitive sports are the ones fuelled with laughter, camaraderie and constant failure. It truly became a social affair and I learnt more about being a decent person than I did trying to fit my square ass peg in a basketball hole that was never my match to begin with.
Embracing loserism is liberating. It strips you of entitlement and the younger you are and the more failure endured seems to de-shackle the bullshit somewhat. After all, you really can only go up OR you develop a healthy acceptance that winning (whilst wonderful) is irrelevant to being a good human being.
Lego Masters is surprisingly a gorgeous example that the world could probably do more of (not the plastic though). After watching every episode our family felt brighter and positive because the show was about peoples passion for their craft, not effing people over, or thriving off unnecessary drama. Competition – yes, but driven by creation, camaraderie, humour, joy. It’s trivial, but relevant.
Right now I feel like Bran in the final GOT seasons. No one understands what the hell he’s on about, or why he’s even still alive and he gets very random, very quick and has become a bit of a weirdo people struggle to relate to. Like Bran I’ve taken a huge step back, shed a few skins, zoned out of frequencies that I have zilch tolerance for and am reflecting on the people I became in order to fit into a life that didn’t align with me. I’m no longer the awkward, gorky lummox and it’s kind of cool to get my crone on to weave those crap experiences and flip them to serve what’s relevant in the now. For my journey. My purpose. It still looks like a shitstorm – but I know once I pull it off – it will all make sense and I’ll be King Bran the Broken; King of the Andals and the Rhoynar, and the First Men, Lord of the Six Kingdoms, and Protector of the Realm” … oh… wait… rather – I’ll be living what I love.
Back to Gary V.
When I first heard you on Joe Rogan I made my husband turn the podcast off demanding never to listen to you again. I thought you were a dick. You were anything but – I just wasn’t in the right space to receive your message that resonates so clearly with me today.
You have been my go to for a long while now – whenever I’ve needed perspective, but also as a comparative compass to gauge where I am on my own track.
Clearly I am the polar opposite to an entrepreneurial millionaire master success story that you are. We are however the same age, so I relate to a lot of your nostalgic take on things, and we have very similar ideals.
I see the pin point moments in history you constantly speak about from a tech perspective and relate to the human aspect that is not only the driver of your success, but the heart of it.
We did live in the limbo era, impressionable, adaptable, quick learning children in the dawn of world altering tech (though primitive now). We knew a life of black and white televisions with dodgy knobs and antennas; phones attached to walls; wiring up parents VCR’s, not having instant information on tap, seeking answers by riding a bike to a library, turning pages in an actual book etc etc… It gives you a monumental appreciation of the world today, but also an almost calming perspective. An ability to cope and adapt with the constant changes and upgrades – but at the same time not living in fear if it all disappeared.
That’s what I admire about you, that you push those hard truths not just to young people but to all generations – that in an instant all this irrelevant rubbish could piss down the toilet and the ones whose values are not steeped in materialism will be the ones who cope and contribute to resolution. It’s not a hippie thing. It’s a decent human thing.
To hear a man speaking about kindness being the real and only legacy to strive for and the biggie to instill in our kids is comforting. Entitlement is just ridiculous and if life constantly falls in your lap chances are there will be a payment somewhere down the track that will suck hard. To quote you,
“The piper demands payment at some point.”
Never presume sacrifices or learning is ever truly done and if advice and opinions are being shared let it only come from your own truth and experience.
While I don’t plan on being on tap in order to be successful, your work ethic is inspiring. For a man in your position with so many hungry opportunists consuming everything you do – to say you can see yourself going down a road where you give away 95% of your wealth to charity, regardless if you do, makes my inner unco, noncompetitive gentle-giant cheer –
So from some random a million miles from your world, one who reserved a few mere paragraphs at the end of a blog dedicated to you – sincerely, thank you. Thank you for validating what I suspected all along. Nice guys will have their trending day in the sun. Kindness trumps all and gentle lummoxes doing good deeds just for the hell of it will always be cool as fCk.
There are no expectations of any sort attached to this post. No tags, no hashtags, no key-effing-words, no hopes for reciprocation. Just much thanks and admiration.
Just to clarify this isn’t a drag against competitive sports or their place in the world. My kids love their weekend commitments and the genetic aspirations to be a winner has firmly planted itself in my boy. He is his most definitely my mothers grandson.