Something that I haven’t talked about before on here is that I am a middle school girl’s basketball coach. Not for any particular reason, it just never came up.
On Thursday night, our season ended in underwhelming fashion. The team never gelled and figured out how high their potential was. They existed in chaos all season and never learned how to manage it.
But that’s not where the thought struck me. After our game, a boy’s game started and it was the polar opposite of ours. It was everything that basketball should be: smooth transitions, beautiful movement, and calm in the face of pressure. Both games had the same stakes, lose and your season is over. But the differences were stark.
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Seeing the differences in how the games played out made me wonder: how is it that two games with the same thing on the line could look that different? And what I came away with was my own chaos theory.
Let’s talk about basketball first. In basketball, one player has the ball. Around that player is nine other players, all moving, bumping, and reacting to what is happening. Everyone has their role and a goal that they are trying to achieve, even without possessing the ball. And on top of all that, they must operate in synchronicity within the space of the court.
In life, we have the ball. Our teammates are our family, friends, coworkers, etc. We may pass the ball to our teammates to try to increase our chances to score. The other team is the obstacles we encounter in our life. They try to stop us from scoring. And the lines creating the court are the societal rules we must operate within.
“You have to exist in chaos. Isn’t that exciting? To have everything swirling around you and there you are, calm in the eye of the hurricane?”
I lay this out not to compare basketball to life, although the similarities are clear. No, my point is that to exist within the chaos of life, we must be comfortable in its presence.
Life is basketball. It’s chaotic on the surface. You have people helping you and people who will stand against you. You have loose guidance on how you should play the game, but there are many different ways to achieve your goals.
But the key to those goals is existing in the chaos. We live in a world that is only getting more chaotic, more unknown and at the same time, we have more information than ever before. We have more teammates and more opposition.
How do we exist in the chaos? Will we shrink, turn the ball over and let it consume us? Or will we remain calm, do the necessary preparations for it, and embrace the challenge when it meets us?
As much as I love the team that I coached, I wish they had embraced the chaos. Met it head on and accepted the challenge put in front of them. There will be other games and opportunities to rise to the challenge. But you can never get an opportunity back.
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