I’m not a big fan of watching basketball on TV.
I get bored with it pretty easily, and I think its more tedious to watch then a lot of other sports. But, I really enjoy playing basketball. I love the simplicity, the basic skills of running jumping, getting the ball and shooting. Its an easy game to just pick up and play and I have had great times playing on courts all over the world, making friends and getting a workout.
Now before you get confused, lets be clear that this is not a post about the NBA. This is a post about being an artist, writer or creator of any kind and getting tripped up by certain myths that society continually reenforces. I just don’t care about what’s going on with professional basketball players and their games. What I care about is the confusion that a lot of people suffer under: that being the idea that the NBA is the only way to play basketball.
I care about this, because it is complete and utter bullshit. A lie that only exists because TV is at the center of every living room, and marketing departments are the center of most products.
Of course this isn’t something that’s limited to basketball. We have the belief that their is only one way to rate success about all kinds of things in the world. People believe that the only way to stay cool is through acquiring the newest tech. People believe that the only music worth knowing is what they hear on the radio, or the only books worth reading are those that are best-sellers. Some believe that the only way to show they care about the world and its people is through paying attention to national/international politics on TV.
As an artist I have often bought into certain lines of thinking like this that are essentially confused. One being that the only reputable and proper way to sell art is by being represented in a gallery. Or that there are certain paths that I need to follow, A certain place that I need to be or a certain style I need to adopt in order to get on track with my career.
There is certainly some truth to these things. A best-seller has a chance of being really good, being represented in a gallery could be great, and it would be awesome to have the talent of a Michael Jordan. But they are incomplete truths.
These truths represent good things about the systems in place in the world. As systems, they are ways of being part of the world and making something happen, but just as they have their good points, they also have tons of limitations and out-right problems. Thats what systems are, regimented actions to achieve an end – some work really well, some are better than others and some son’t work at all.
The problem as I see it is that we elevate good systems to mythic status. We accept their greatness, not because they are inherently mythic, but because they have been at times truly excellent. But they have always been systems, not truths. They have achieved and created what they have, not from any inherent power or ability, but through the fortuitous combination of hard work, talent, persistence and luck.
But embedded systems that become myths tend to push out other avenues of thought. Like the NBA, kids everywhere dream of making it to the NBA and leading their team to greatness, but when they begin to realize they don’t have the right talent, skills or whatever it might be they give up . But do they give up the NBA or do they give up on basketball? Do they accept that the only way to express their love for basketball is through an NBA career, or do they find something different, something potentially better and more fulfilling by pursuing their own thing?
As great as the level of play is in the NBA, if you only see the NBA as a goal, then you are limiting your life. You are focusing on the NBA and not basketball. If you tell yourself I can’t play the game and make a living if I am not in the NBA, then you have lost your love for basketball and replaced it with something else. You lose part of reality by focusing on what others have done, and where the spotlights are today.
But he reality is you can play anywhere. You can go now, pick up a ball, a pen, an idea, a brush or whatever it is that moves you and get going with your work. There is no system you need to fit into now.You just have to get the work done, and then keep going, keep getting the work done. You need to push and practice until you find your way to move forward. If you really love the work, then you will find a path for yourself. you just have to keep moving forward and getting better. Maybe you will find a way into this or that system, or perhaps even better find a way to create your own system that moves you and others to another level.
But the answer is to get up and play. Basketball is fun not because you can emulate Jordan, or Kobe, or Dr.J, and maybe someday walk in their footsteps in the NBA.
Basketball is fun because it is basketball.