Monthly Archives: November 2013

giving back

basketball

‘hey, coach. can you show me how to improve my shot?’

it doesn’t feel that long ago. wasn’t it just yesterday that i was the skinny teenage boy playing basketball trying to improve my game?

5-6 hours a day of basketball. as many hours on the weekend as i could get gym time. when the gym was closed i’d just roll out my portable net and shoot for hours on my street.
our neighbors must have come to hate the sound of the bouncing ball.

i lived, breathed, slept, ate, dreamed basketball. dozens and dozens of pictures and posters lined my walls. i awoke to motivational quotes said by my favorite players written on my ceiling and went to bed repeating them to myself, drilling them deep into my subconscious.
my friends thought i was obsessive. i was. i was determined to make it to the next level.

i really miss being a gym rat.

i’m a coach now. started coaching junior varsity basketball at the local high school. the team is made up mostly of kid’s from the square and mulgrave park, the poorer, historically black (there’s more diversity today) public housing communities. that’s just to say that these kids can ball! most of them play for the school and one or two other club teams.

most of these kids live, breathe, sleep, eat, dream basketball just like i used to.

being around them transports me back 15 years.

how i came to be coaching was so random it had to be a divine thing. one of the kid’s from the square approached me at my gym to help him train for his upcoming senior year. he wanted to end his high school career going out on top. in order to do that he knew he needed to get better.

i ran his ass off on the court and laid waste to him in the weight room. i bet he was regretting ever asking me to help him by the end. but he got stronger, quicker, smarter on the court and we fixed his jump shot. not bad for just a couple of months.

during one of our sessions in the weight room, a guy in my gym asked me what i was doing. i told him i was training the kid for the upcoming high school basketball season. he himself was had just become a coach at the same high school my young protegé attended.

coincidence?

i don’t believe in those.

‘you like coaching?’ he asked me and before i could answer, ’cause i need some help coaching this year..’

and a coaching career begins.

i never thought i’d like let alone want to coach basketball. maybe it’s because i gave my coaches such a hard time when i was a young, cocky kid, who thought he knew all there was to know about basketball. i know i’d never have wanted to coach me.

but these kids are great. they’re focused, hungry and suck up everything i say like sponges. they call me ‘coach’ and ‘sir’ and are eager students of the game.

so far so good.

we played our first game last week and won!

i’m 1-0 as a high school basketball coach. if only my 17-year-old self could see me now.

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a lament

no one teaches us to cry. most of us come into this world wailing and shouting, though maybe for reasons we can’t seem to remember. a critical word, a push into the muddy puddle, not getting what we want. whether we’re a two-year old still learning the in’s and out’s of navigating stairs and chairs or a 70 year old doing much the same, pain and hurt never seems far away.

but why?  why the tears? why the sadness that pricks at us in so many different ways?

it seems silly to hold on to this feature any longer.

i’d much prefer to delete it like a poorly formed sentence with poorly ordered words. i want to send it on its way and move on without it. i’ve outgrown my use for it.

when we feel really sad why do we call it depression?

there is nothing depressed about the feeling of sadness that i feel about the world in which i live. those feelings are not depressed, dull or lifeless, but heightened and stimulated. there’s pain there, but where there is pain there is life.

for that much i am thankful.

the world seems very unjust to me. i don’t understand what i am seeing, what i am hearing and reading. violence everywhere. violence with our hands or violence with our words is still violence done. it’s all damaging. mind, body and soul damaging. emotional wounds are just as painful as physical ones. maybe more painful. the wounds inflicted on the soul are the worst.

unadulterated and unfiltered reality perplexes me.

why is there so much evil?

yes, evil.

injustice is evil. oppression is evil. slavery, theft, murder, greed, loneliness, lies, all is evil.

these things gnaw at my frail inner man. they laugh and slander and boast about their ways.
how i long to see

a righteous anger builds inside of me. a flame of intense heat that grows larger with each deep breath. i only need to fuel it and watch it grow. i’m not sure what i’ll do with it yet but i believe i’ll know when the time comes.

maybe you reading this have a flame inside, too?

i’d sure like some company.

citofinjustice

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little by little

i got promoted at my job not long ago.

cue applause and ‘congratulations!’ banner.

ok, it’s not as special as it seems. i’m still working as a mental health counselor and my job description has not changed a bit. the only difference now is more hours.

not as glamorous as the opening line suggests, eh?

more hours means more time spent with my clients and that’s a pretty awesome perk since they’re pretty awesome. they all make me laugh, think, feel and understand. it’s some of the best living i do. we get to live life together and experience the up’s and the down’s.

the up’s can be really good. there’s a treasure chest of reward helping people live better lives. i often wonder who is getting more from our interactions – them or me.

but the down’s can be bad. deep and dark at times. at times it’s hard to remind myself of the up’s when the down’s are pretty depressing. i don’t feel this way for long, as things change pretty rapidly.

frustration.

psychosis frustrates me. it gets under my skin more than i care to admit it. i’m supposed to be used to it’s ways by now, right? i’ve been working with dozens and dozens of people who dealt with psychosis. this is nothing new to me.

it frustrates me more today than it ever did before.

why?

i’m not sure. i’m writing right now to figure that out.

i search my brain’s data banks from my psychology studies in university hoping to find the answers i want. nothing. i comb online psych journals looking for a glimmer of hope.

still nothing.

i know the things people say when they are experiencing a psychotic episode isn’t really them. i know this. i know that the insults, threats and names that are spoken aren’t coming from their heart but from their delusions and disjointed thoughts. i know they don’t mean what they say.

i know all this and still it frustrates me.

there is no reasoning with psychosis.

maybe that’s my problem. maybe that’s what frustrates me so much. maybe my own understanding of mental health needs to change then.

i want to be able to compartmentalize everything in my life. there’s a sense of control in that. when everything fits nicely into it’s little box that feels comfortable.

control and comfort.

pride and selfishness?

i can’t compartmentalize mental health, especially not psychosis. that’s what probably bothers me so much. there’s no comfort and there is definitely no control over it. psychosis operates on it’s own terms and doesn’t care a rip about anything else. it doesn’t care about the mind it is corrupting and the negative feelings it is causing, both in the host and the surrounding people.

one of my client’s struggles with psychosis. i can seen the pain on their face as they struggle to understand and be understood in a confusing world full of delusion and debilitating paranoia. i see and feel the anger that is born from their cognitive difficulties to piece together the disjointed reality thrown at them.

even though they have many people around them on a day-to-day basis – family, friends, support workers – i can still see the loneliness on their face.

and it eats me up inside little by little..

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