Sunday, September 26, 2010

Getting Out Of Your Comfort Zone

During the summer, I had a very busy time with basketball.  Besides my usual Saturday pickup games with friends, I played in a Monday night Friendship league and a more competitive Tuesday night League.   For my old bones, that was plenty of basketball.  It was a little tiring but fun to stay active during the summer.

With the Fall rolling around, I was expecting to have a fairly light basketball schedule.  I would probably play most Saturdays with my friends and play in a Monday night league as I had done for the past few years.

However,  a guy I knew asked if I would be interested in playing in a Sunday evening league.  They were looking for bodies and I volunteered to play.  It might not have been the best choice for my body since it's just more wear and tear on my body.

My rationale was that I wanted to play a little basketball outside of my comfort zone.  After all, I usually played with or against Asian ball players and not much against other ethnicities.  As I was getting older, I probably wasn't going to be playing competitive basketball for too much longer and this might be one last chance to give it a shot.  The last night I had played in a league that was not primarily catered toward Asians (though open to everyone) was back in 1998.

After my team's first two games, we're winless and we're trying to find our chemistry.  It's definitely a different experience that playing in Asian leagues.  The other teams are bigger and the game is played differently.  Asian leagues tend toward fast breaks and outside shots.  This particular Sunday league is going toward more inside play though it's likely because my team is small.

All in all, the point is that we all need to get out of comfort zones sometime.  I'm fortunate that I have enough basketball experience to adapt to different situations.  Though our team has started slow, we'll get better as the season progresses!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Cycle Of Life: The Passing Of Your Parents

Yesterday (Saturday) was a great day.  One of my oldest friends was getting married and I was part of the wedding party.   There was a lot of activities to do and all the people in the wedding party had a terrific time.  While it was definitely a LONG day (got up at 7:30 AM, didn't get home until past midnight), it was well worth the time and energy.

This morning (Sunday), I attended Sunday Services at a friend's church.  This friend had also been at the wedding the night before.  However, to my surprise, my church going friend quietly announced that his dad had passed away after a long battle with liver cancer.  Talk about having major contrasts in emotion.   Just twelve hours earlier, I was happy for my old friend getting married.  Now, I was sad for ANOTHER old friend who's dad passed away.

The announcement wasn't necessarily a huge surprise but it still hit me pretty hard.  I didn't know my friend's dad at all as he lived in Asia.  However, both my parents are getting up there in age and I realized that one day I will have to deal with the same thing.

My friend made a good point during his announcement today.   Everyone has issues with their parents at one point or another in their lives.  Yet, if you take a step back, you will realize that the parents always had your best interests in mind.

Also, my friend made the point that his dad always sacrificed for the sake of him and his sister.  In a way, I believe his dad made one final sacrifice.  As mentioned earlier, the dad had been sick for over a year now.  The dad had been admitted to ICU earlier this week which wasn't a great sign.

Despite indications that things weren't looking good, his dad hung on until earlier today.  I firmly believe my friend's dad knew that there was a joyous occasion happening with our friend's wedding.  Rather than wanting to be a burden, the dad hung on for just a little longer so my friend could enjoy the wedding.  Once the wedding finished up, like a proud parent, the dad decided that his duties during this lifetime were complete.  It was time to move on.

While this is a sad occasion, it is just a normal part of the cycle of life that has happened since the beginning of mankind.  Despite all the advances in technology that has shaped our lives in the past two decades,  the reality is that no technology can make us live forever nor take away the sadness when a loved one passes on.

For myself, even though I have my share of issues with my parents, I will try to appreciate them in their golden years.   I don't know how many years they have left and it is best to enjoy it all that I can.  I hope that you all do the same as well.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

You never know when it's your time to go........

Here in the Bay Area, we suffered a tragedy when gas lines exploded Thursday evening and a huge fire engulfed a neighborhood in San Bruno, CA (not far from San Francisco and SF International Airport).   There are some 38 houses destroyed and numerous other houses damaged.

Fortunately, the death toll is relatively low as the count is at four.  The four people killed were all women and ranged in age from 13 years old, 20 years old, 44 years old and 81 years old.   The 13 year old was the daughter of the 44 year old.

However, despite the low death toll, any loss of life weighs on everyone's mind in such tragedies.   As I think about my own life, I haven't had the easiest life.  I've gone through my turmoils at home, in school and at work.   Yet, I'm still alive.  I have a job and I get to enjoy life, whether it be hanging out with friends or playing basketball.

I hope that this tragedy reminds EVERYONE that life is short and we need to enjoy every moment that we can.  Either you or your loved ones may not be here tomorrow and you don't want to have any regrets for things not said or done.  

My prayers and best wishes to everyone affected by the fire.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Quote of the Day

"They say true friends can go long periods of time without speaking and never question the friendship. These types of friends pick up like they just spoke yesterday, regardless of how long it has been or how far away they live, and they don't hold grudges. They understand that life is busy, but you will always love them."

This is true for quite a few of my friends, especially one long time college friend.  We go with the ebbs and flows of life.  We may talk often in one week and not for weeks on end.  We each have our own lives but when the mood strikes, we pick up where we left off. 

Alas, one friendship I lost didn't follow this formula.  I'm not sure if I had practiced this quote, if things would have been different.  Regardless, it was a difficult lesson learned. 

Thursday, September 02, 2010

There's Always Something To Remind Me

(Song Reference:  "There's Always Something To Remind Me" by Naked Eyes)

As we all get older, we inevitably start slowing down and have less energy.  This is most evident for those of us who play in sports.  As someone who's played a lot of basketball in my lifetime, I've gone from an energetic young kid in my high school and college years to the grizzled veteran in current times.

However, as a single man with minimal responsibilities in life besides working and paying bills, I have more time to play basketball than my married and attached friends, some of whom also have kids.  I play basketball at least twice a week and sometimes more depending if leagues are going on   Because of this, I remain in reasonable shape compared to some of my friends.

Because I'm in shape, I can still compete with the younger kids on the basketball court occasionally.    I like to surprise the high school and college kids with the fact that I can still play a bit.  However,  while it's good to be confident, there's always something to remind me that I am getting up there in age!

Tonight was one of those nights when I played some pick up basketball.  I was matched with a couple young kids over the course of several pick up games.  One was this mid twenties college kid who played some high school basketball.  I had played against him and his team in league basketball so I was familiar with him and his game.  He was around my height but quicker, faster, stronger and a great shooter.   I could barely stay in front of the guy and his quickness had me off balance all night.  He would either just shoot over me and just drive by me for a layup.  If I could get in front of him, he would lean into me, bump me back and spin the other way.  Overall, this guy was just a beast on offense.    I guess I shouldn't feel too bad as others who tried to stop this kid didn't do that well either.   The only thing I could do was just try to get open on offense and I did hit a few shots when the kid tried to double team one of my team's players.

On the other hand, there was this other guy I had trouble with.  I don't know how old this second guy was but he looked to be also in his mid twenties.  The second guy was nowhere the offensive player the college  kid was.  However, he was quick, energetic and wouldn't stop moving.   He had no difficulty driving by me a few times to the basket.  When he didn't have the ball, he would keep cutting and moving.  With his quickness and jumping ability, I had a tough time keeping him away from the basket.    When I got the ball against the second guy, it was difficult to get any shots.  His quickness allowed him to close on me fast as soon as I got the ball.  I managed to get a few shots off but missed quite a few because I rushed them.

Tonight's pick up games reminded me of the difference between playing with my friends who are my age and people who are younger and more athletic.  With my friends, I feel I can get off shots almost anytime I want.  Since my friends are a little older, defense is a little easier and I don't have to work as hard to get shots on offense.

However, when you play these younger kids, you have to work extra hard on both offense and defense. This extra effort wears on you and my knees and ankle were feeling it tonight.   Plus, when you're playing against quick guys on offense, you need precision passing and timing.  If a pass is off by a split second, you may not be able to get your shot off.  I found this was definitely the case tonight.  I was on the receiving end of passes that were not perfect and I either didn't shoot or missed the shots badly.

All in all, I think I need to stop dreaming that I can hang with these young high school and college kids.  I should stick with people my own age in the future.  It just makes basketball more fun for me!