Yesterday I watched the German Cup Final with Bayern Munich vs. Borussia Dortmund. In the dying seconds of the game I watched like a little kid in front of cartoons as Bayern forward Thomas Müller received a through ball, dribbled on the diagonal across a defender, rounded the goalkeeper and slotted home the goal that would put the game away. His reaction following was that of a school boy's. Which is the same as that of a passionate footballer.
Which is the same as passionate coaches and fans. As you can see in this video *skip to 7:15.
It gave me the reminder I needed that although soccer is the reason that I'm injured right now, soccer is also the reason that I have felt. Like really felt things. Pure joy. Disappointment. Frustration. Determination. Fear. Swagger. Nerves and anxiety. Growth and progress. It's the teacher we never wanted. The tests before the studying. A lot of times you have to just figure things out on your own. What makes you calm before games? How do you get your confidence back? How do you handle personal and team frustration?
You get to work through stuff all the time. Sometimes you get to experience that pure joy. That feeling that brings you to the brink of "it can't get better than this". And sometimes you don't even want to get out of bed in the morning.
All those emotions come and go. Lately I've been on the scared and frustrated side. I should start walking soon. I am two weeks out from my meniscus surgery. I should be able to leave my crutches, but I'm really quite scared. I'm frustrated I'm having a mental block. I'm not used to it. Usually I can just get up and practice until I get it right. This is a little different. It takes more than repetition. It takes a complete mental makeover that needs to happen as I'm going through this. It also takes courage.
Courage is something I don't think about often, because anytime I do something in soccer I just think I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing. Taking risks is part of the game. When I don't do it, I'm not playing well. When I do, I'm just doing what I do.
Courage now is something I can't really locate in my tool box. I'm looking for it. Like a blind man needing that last IKEA piece. But I'm not going to give up (self talk). Because I do have other tools to get me there. Like determination. And yes I do have some swagger left.
I'm relying on those things to help me get past this minor setback in my life. I need to use the goods I have to find my courage. I can do it. And I will. (more self talk)
These little situations will continue to arise as I go through the rest of PT for my meniscus and then again with my ACL surgery. Figuring out what you're capable of is scary, because it means doing things you've never done before. That means finding ways to compensate for what you might be lacking as a person. Which is also difficult to admit.
My PT guy, Chuck, said something enlightening the other day, "people come into this, some determined and some not, but everyone gets through it." That gave me some confidence to keep going of course, but it also gave me a little motivation that I don't want to be someone who's not determined. That's not the #ACLegacy I want to leave behind.
Regardless of the process, and all the feelings that come with it, I will always come back to the beautiful game. Right now, I can't physically go out and do all the things that usually bring those positives out of me. The joy, the swagger, the pride in what I do... but I can watch on as others do it. And what I'm realizing, it isn't too far off from what I feel when I'm playing myself.
When Müller rounded that keeper, I knew exactly what was going to happen next. I knew he would slot it with his left foot. I knew it was going in. It felt like I was experiencing the whole thing with him. The non-existent thought process. The rush of being in the 18-yard box. The final touches. And then, the big celebration after. It was a rush for me. And as long as watching the game brings those kinds of emotions out of me, I know I'll be able to keep all these feelings for as long as I live.
If we are able to feel something once, we can usually find it again. It's not always the conventional ways that work. Sometimes you have to dig in your tool box and hammer a nail with the back end of the screw driver. You know the end result. The nail goes in, a little crooked, but it's in and it works. And then two hours later, the hammer turns up under your sink, next to the screws, right where you left it.