Alternative title: “Madness? This. Is. RUGBY!”
A story about rain, rolling with changes, mindset, and madness
I am overcome with bridging madness. I’m lost in the wilderness of the Google universe, searching through webpages like it’s 1995 and Yahoo Search won’t show me an image of the Spanish flag from the 1800s after hours and hours of desperation, iteration, and new search combinations. Nothing. I find myself wishing that I could just ask Siri, “Siri, how many employees does the Kentucky Association of Electric Cooperative Corporation have?” but I don’t have Siri’s melodic voice at my disposal. And even if I did I know she probably would’ve been just as useful as Jeeves if I’d asked him the same question in 1997.
I have bridging madness.
I’ve reached the proverbial edge of a bridge which has been severed by the new enemy of Godzilla and it’s time to take a breather. What are my options? I can either to take a leap of faith across the gap and arduously forge ahead or I can turn around, close all of my windows, and stop this madness. I take the red pill and immediately close all of my work windows, hop on Toruk, and fly away from this cube… in real life that means taking a bathroom break and heading down 5 floors to the lobby, passing through 2 sets of doors, and taking a long, deep breath of fresh air.
The first visual that my senses uncover from the depths of my memory is the morning of the third and final day of the U15 youth festival at Paarl Boys High. Of course it’s rugby (:
I remember that day as if it were 10 weeks ago, because it was. On that Wednesday morning I woke up at 6:00 to Wild Ones, iPhone strumming, and then a cover of Wagon Wheel in that order like I did every morning in SA. I’d been informed the day before that I had the first game of the day at 8:00, so I quickly ate breakfast, transcribed my goals from the game plan I wrote the previous night to a scorecard, and rolled. I knew we’d only have about 20 minutes once arriving at the pitch before kickoff so I had to start my mental and physical prep at the house. Was this a test? I remember wondering if they gave me the first game of the day to see if I could function under these conditions since I’d previously received jests about how long before a game I started stretching, rolling, getting dressed, focusing, and preparing. (To be fair, Hendrik had made a comment about how Americans love to stretch, because I would start moving with well over 30 minutes before kickoff since that was the last reference point I had in America when I reffed a game that was far below freezing during the heart of Boston winter and raising my body temp early was critically important.) This would be my earliest game yet and I would have to stay awake and focused in the car ride over so that I wouldn’t arrive at the pitch only half-awake. That was the most challenging rule I set for myself – stay awake!! I didn’t. I let myself fall victim to rationalization, thinking, “It’s okay to close my eyes because I’m visualizing” but I would visualize the same 10 seconds of the game over and over again each time, making it 1 second shorter into the kick-off-catch-tackle-breakdown vision sequence. It’s interesting that broken-record-visualization is so similar to reading the same line of a book over and over and over again when I’m falling asleep. At least I was comfortable with kickoffs now?
Oh I forgot to mention one important and very relevant fact about my flashback: it was raining. When we arrived at the venue I saw 5 deserted and empty pitches. We hurried through the downpour into the clubhouse and I found out my game had been called off. I didn’t know if I should be relieved because the weather was terrible, relieved because I fell asleep in the car, or a little disappointed that I wouldn’t get the game I had put so much different effort into preparing for. But the decision was not in my control so everything was all good :) When I think back to all the different environments, situations, and conditions we had to ref (or not ref) in, this is one of the experiences that comes to mind first. In the end everything worked out (like it always does, and if it doesn’t then there is still always some sort of positive outcome) – games were swapped around and I got to ref a 10:00 match and AR twice as originally planned. [tl;dr Also got to AR for JD 3 30 minute chuckas for the SA U20 Jr. WC team trials later that day]
That was a long story. If I wrote about everything I remember from the entire day we’d be here for at least another equivalent 24 hours. In real time, all of these thoughts took place in just a few seconds in my head.
As I stood outside my office in my business casual garb, protected from the rain by the overpass of the office building above, I wondered if rugby practices would be cancelled tonight. I imagined myself at a rugby practice, running, passing, kicking, whistle blowing, and frolicking through the wet fields of glory glistening green grass. Seemed like a fun time to me! But then I reminded myself that I’m currently on the DL with knee problems (I promised myself yesterday that I’d truly rest and actively rehab my knee this week) and I probably only feel so much longing, desire, and joy from thoughts of rugby practice because I’m not allowed to participate at the moment. Resting is SO HARD when I’m injured, but slacking off from training is SO EASY when I’m healthy.
Rasmus Ankersen would tell me “It’s all about mindset” like he intelligently named a chapter in his book, The Gold Mine Effect, after. As I rode the elevator back up to my floor of the office, feeling refreshed from letting my imagination and mind wander to rugby and dreams of reffing and playing on a warm, rainy, summer evening with my friends, I once again tried to convince myself that rest and rehab is just as important, if not more, than a killer daily training program. They’re synonymous. Rehab = training too. Right. So no more excuses, Emily! I must take active recovery just as seriously as I did when I was in SA, when I knew that if I didn’t conscientiously take care of myself and my health every single day then I wouldn’t be able to keep up with the intensity or perform at my best.
The rain has stopped now.
Writing is therapeutic.