Many many years ago, in a small, reasonably priced apartment in Bellingham, my before-husband told me a story from his childhood about decision making. He played basketball at the church league up the street from his house during his Elementary and Jr. High years. Being a somewhat shy kid, he never had the confidence on the court that could allow him to succeed among other sweaty 10 year olds. The pressure of the ball being tossed at him was sometimes too much and he’d freeze, or just take off running like Forest Gump, forgetting all main facets of the game; namely that you have to bounce the ball whilst running and throw it at a high hoop thingy. I don’t know the details of the rules, really. I wasn’t there.
His dad used to coach the team and would watch incredulously as his eldest son choked every time the ball was passed to him. “Look, son,” he said with a coach tone and fatherly wisdom, “don’t think too much. You just gotta shoot, dribble, or pass.”
This story was relayed to me a month before I moved back to Texas in 1998 which alternated the course of my life forever. The decision had been a laborious one and on that night I repeated, “You gotta shoot, dribble or pass” to myself a hundred times until I stopped thinking and decided to move.
Fifteen years later, while strolling along the Queen’s walk in London this afternoon, I’m listening to Bossypants by Tina Fey (henceforth known as my new BFF “TF” because we’re tight like that) and she relays a similar lesson from her past.
“You can’t be that kid standing at the top of the waterslide, overthinking it. You have to go down the chute. (And I’m from a generation where a lot of people died on waterslides, so this was an important lesson for me to learn.) You have to let people see what you wrote. It will never be perfect, but perfect is overrated.”
The point is, I haven’t been letting you see my writing. I’ve been standing here, frozen, holding the ball and sweating. It’s not that I think I need to be perfect, or have the ability to, or even that you need to read it, because I know you don’t. The point is that I need to write it and I need it to be seen. Even if it’s only seen by the one Russian bot who tends to visit religiously looking for, I’m guessing, potatoes. Whatever. I’m just saying it’s time, y’all.
So remind me to tell you the one about how my baby turned six and promptly grew a beard and started shaving. Or the one about my band of brothers in the UK who witnessed me clearing a dance-floor at a club and creating an honest-to-god hoedown (as you do). Or the time I sweated through two entire shirts in one day because being in your late thirties is a bitch. No, actually, that last one isn’t so much of a story as just fact.
Is there something you’re holding too tightly to? A dream you forget to dream? This is it. It’s time. You gotta shoot, dribble, or pass.