The Value of Bad and Hard

Blog No. 149

When I was a young buck, I played a lot of hockey. Most of it was just Windsor Minor stuff, but I did spring leagues, pickup games, pond hockey and street hockey. It was my number one activity and form of exercise. I had done some other team sports, and a few solo ones, but hockey is the one that stuck and the one that I miss. While my fondness for the game (and my memories of it) are strong, I sadly was never very good at it. I worked hard and took pride in overcoming obstacles, but at my best, I was only good enough to not be the worst player in a beer league (and mostly because of the effort I give).

Playing on a team sport (especially a physically demanding one like hockey) led me to learn a lot that I may not have otherwise learned. Teamwork is an obvious one. Communication, understanding, and cooperation are all important skills I was taught. The most important one (at least the one that has served me best) was learning about the reserve fuel tank. Not everyone has it, not everyone can tap into it, but when you can, magic is possible. There is nothing like being tied in the end of the third period, exhausted after a hard fought game, and skating out onto the ice when you haven’t caught your breath from the last time you were out. It’s daunting and, when the game is on the line, nerve-wracking. Then something happens. The crowd disappears, the words your coach just yelled at you sink into the subconscious, and, as you like up for the puck drop, the fatigue and pain disappear. All that matters is that last push, overcoming your limits to fulfill your obligation and make a difference.

There have been hundreds of times where this skill (or self awareness) has been invaluable. Working a hard job, facing an uncertain situation, dealing with life when the shit storm is blowing and the ‘have to get done now’ starts piling up, weighing you down. Sometimes it’s as simple as going to help a friend after a particularly hard day, or getting up early when you had a late shift the night before. Other times it’s dire, getting to the hospital when you think you are going to pass out or catching that heavy object before it falls on someone. It can even be the difference when you need to study for a final or get a report done on time. Personally, I’ve managed to get most of my writing on that extra tank. It’s been essential to my life, knowing that when the chips are down, I have what it takes to get through and make a difference.

But that’s not what this week’s blog is about. This blog is about the weekend I had last week. It was a full few days or really tough work and not so pleasant experiences. I worked Friday night and both Saturday and Sunday day. There were nine events spread over that time, overlapping and all demanding attention. Just about everything that could go wrong did, and I was caught in the middle of it. None if it was fun, but it had to be done and I was scheduled to do it. Plus I missed all kinds of great things. LAAF, Walkerville Block Party, Culture Days, one of the events I was working, all took place without me. The extra tank was tapped and drained. If I didn’t have it, I wouldn’t have made it.

There are all kinds of other reasons why going through a difficult time can be a good thing. Mostly it involves the same basic idea about learning important things. I’m going to leave all that for another time, or not. I’m too tired from all the learning I did to care about it now.

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2 thoughts on “The Value of Bad and Hard

  1. WOW – do I hear you! The extra tank – that’s a interesting way name for it. Too many people refuse to tap into it and others drain it every day. I agree completely it is our most valuable asset and does seem magical at times. Great Post – I like the way you think.

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