My Full Attention

I write for much the same reason I used to shoot baskets by myself. I would seek out those courts I knew were most likely to be empty. I did not want to be tempted to show off, nor suffer the showoff’s shame for every missed shot. I wanted to practice in peace, moving further and further from the basket, from the left of the court to the right of the court, feeling again and again the same satisfaction when the ball found its mark. Watching me, you might have thought I was training for a competition, but I was not. I had no aspirations to join an organized team; I rarely even played pickup games. Why not then simply stand beneath the basket where I could be nearly guaranteed to make every shot? Because, as satisfying as the experience of watching and hearing that ball rattle through the rim was, I had not come in search of basketball success. I had come in search of something that wasn’t easy.

To me, easy has always meant something that can be accomplished without my full attention. Standing directly beneath the basket there was such a forgiving room for error that comparatively little of my attention was required to sink a shot. But when I stood at the top of the key, or did a turn-around jumper at the foul line, no less than my full attention was needed for success.

It is tempting in life for my attention to run in many directions; it is tempting in life to do one thing while simultaneously thinking about another. Sinking a basket is satisfying, but it is nothing compared with summoning and sustaining my full attention. I am nothing if not that attention, and in this way I had brought my ball to a court not to sink baskets, but to meet myself.

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