Returning After A Break
June 21, 2021
I found myself falling back into a rut, so I decided to take a break from writing here. I had nothing useful to say—yeah, yeah, you're funny—so I felt it better to wait until something changed. During these six weeks, the 2020/2021 season finished, I didn't like my results, and I went back to that lost feeling that I had before I started this project. At that point, I wasn't sure what to do next.
So I did what I always do: I looked outside myself for answers, because I guess I don't believe enough (yet) that I have everything I need and I need to get out of my own way. I got a few useful tips from some of you wonderful folks and a bucket of cold water thrown over me from one of you in particular. That bucket of cold water is one of the primary reasons that I stopped writing: I wanted time to figure out what do with the comment. It leads me to a simple conclusion:
I'm not going to get where I want to go until I start genuinely believing that I can get there.
I have had this strange thought for the last two years: I want someone that I trust to let me down gently, to tell me that I actually can't become an elite bowler—that I have an insurmountable barrier that prevents me from achieving my goals and, most importantly, that barrier is not my fault. If I had this, then I could safely stop trying, secure in the knowledge that I'm not leaving anything on the table and that there was nothing I could have done to change the outcome.
I know, right?
Take A Breath, Reset, Try Again
I took a breath, stepped back, reset my thinking, and reached out for a bit of help from my trusted advisers. Here's what I landed on:
- I will do some physical practice related to consistent timing and throwing every shot the same way—and that's it. I need to keep this dead simple. I need to forget everything else about straight arm swing and walking dead fucking straight. I'd like to do those things, but if I'm doing them, then they're a distraction from what really matters: consistent timing and throwing every shot the same way.
- I will continue to work on overall physical strength, because that's good for my overall health and as a pleasant side-effect, it will help me with stamina and balance.
- I will focus on the productive mental habits that helped me during the period this past spring when I bowled well. Clearly, they helped. Sadly, I began to imagine that I no longer needed them, so I stopped, followed shortly by worse performances. I will return to these good habits and let them do their thing.
And maybe that's it. Good news: I can do it. Bad news: it might make for boring writing. That's fine. If I have to choose between good bowling and an decent writing, I'll take good bowling until my body decides that I can't do that any more. It seems a safe bet that I will be able to return to writing then.
The Productive Habits
These are the habits I have in mind to focus on.
- Connect directly with the feelings in the body, rather than thinking about them and trying to make my body do the right things.
- Throw aggressively and put good rotation on the ball. ("One hand clapping")
- "Robot mind": just do it again. And again. And again. And again.
- Fall in love with the process, rather than the results.
- When on the approach, wait until it feels good, then just go.
It looks like I'll have another full season of bowling in 2021/2022, since I don't plan to travel for business this autumn. This should give me a solid 12-15 months to build these productive habits. Either I'll do it or I won't, but it won't be for a lack of trying.
And this time I'll keep it simple enough and I'll let them do their thing.