As is the tradition of Thanksgiving, it is important to give thanks for the year you have had and interestingly enough, I am more thankful than I have ever been before. I have more in my life than I have ever had before. Here is my list of five things I am grateful for.
For as long as I can remember, my life has been one giant tumble. Over the last 15 years, I have been constantly trying to figure out what the next step was with absolutely no long term plan ever in place. The closest thing I had to stability in my life over the last 15 years was my time at Stony Brook (and even then, I found ways to make that less than stable.) When you have no stability, no direction and no clue, your life can be turbulent to say the least.
As a professional athlete, that uncertainty grew even further. As an American import, you bounce around from country to country, club to club, being paid as a hired gun to get the job done. There is no longevity in that life and certainly no stability. Play in Europe and have ONE bad game and see how the GM, coach and board members treat you the following week. Things will be a little different, I can assure you that.
Now that I look at my life, I am still bouncing around the world but this time it's different. Very different.
This time, I have one piece of the puzzle uncovered. My life with Carlie is something that is hard to put into words, even for me, but what I do know is we are one team. There is no pressure on one or the other to "figure it out." There is no responsibility on either of us to lead the other. We are as unified as you will find in this world, which is why we have been able to live the life we have.
We have very little certainty in our life, especially when you are moving from city to city every six months (sometimes more often than that) but what I can assure you is we have one thing that is constant- our direction.
When I first moved out to Australia, I was in search of finding stability. I was tired of having to constantly think on my feet and figure things out. I landed on the beautiful Sunshine Coast with the idea to "make it work." I had no real aspirations or plan, but I had a stable income and could make it a long term plan.
Things in life NEVER work out how we want them to, but always work out how we NEED them to. When Carlie came into my life, all of those ideas went out of the window (she threw them out, it wasn't initially my choice.)
Once again, I thought I had no direction or plan, but as time went on, I realised there was a method to our madness. We were moving in only one direction, regardless of everything that would come our way. There was no more settling. No more thinking small. There was only the big picture and the fight forward. It hasn't always been easy but we have always kept our noses forward. Without Carlie or this direction who knows what life would look like, but for now, I love the way it is shaping up and for that, I am thankful.
Perspective is one of the things that I continue to find with each day and be blown away by. How we view the world can be horribly incorrect because we do not understand the things that have happened to us, nor do we understand how to use them to our benefit.
Last night Carlie and I were having a conversation about perspective. She made the point that because of some of the things that I have had to go through in my life, I see things differently to a lot of people. I never think of it in that way but as the conversation continued I agreed.
When you lose a parent in the manner my brother and I had to, you realise a lot of things about life. You realise the fragility of life, how to ignore the frivolous things, make time for the people that really do matter to you and not give energy to the things that do not serve you. That is largely what grief gives us- the point of view of how we do want to live our life as opposed to doing the things that aren't for us.
I am not going to sit here and tell you that I always have perspective because I don't. No one has perspective 100% of the time and if they tell you they do, they're lying to you. It's simply not possible but the increase your awareness around perspective can open up your world.
As we were having this conversation, I was discussing some of the things I had to endure with my mom such as walking into the hospital room and she didn't know who I was for the entire visit, or the physical pain I had to watch her endure from the treatments that were trying to save her life. There are images that I will have with me for the rest of my life, and while for a long time they were things that I locked away and never wanted to address, I realised the importance of them and why it is important for me to remember them.
It will serve as the constant reminder to be grateful for what you do have because we always have so much more than we care to admit. It will be the constant reminder to keep perspective and be reminded of what I do have.
Those moments are what have allowed me to look at every adversity I have ever faced in my life and be grateful for them. I am learning to love the struggle because I know how much better it is making me. When things seem like I can't move forward or it will never work out, I have an anchor point in my mind that will ground myself and allow me to keep moving forward.
Now, bouncing around every six months isn't the worst thing in the world because I am doing it with the person that I love the absolute most in the world, chasing a new found dream and trying to answer my life's question, "how big will I allow my impact to be?" Because I have perspective and direction, I can continue to do what I love to do and for that, I am thankful.
PURPOSE AND FULFILMENT
Purpose is something that we are always asking ourselves. "What is the purpose of this or that? What is the purpose of life?" We have a million questions around purpose, but when you figure out your purpose- let me tell you, it is a feeling that is hard to explain. You don't get burnt out, you look forward to each day whether it is Monday or Saturday and you walk away from each day with a sense of accomplishment and look forward to the next day.
We all want to live a life that is fulfilled and I would never have found my purpose or fulfilment in each day if it wasn't for everything that had come before. We want to run away from the hard things, that's just how our brains are wired. What we fail to realise is where our growth lies.
The hard things- the adversities, obstacles, fears and everything else we hate to encounter, is where we become the best version of ourselves. The good things that happen to us, are simply the acknowledgement that we had the skillset necessary to move forward. When we hit a setback, it's not actually a setback, it's a lesson on how to become the best version of yourself. Figure out the lessons, and grasp the tools needed.
For every setback, injury, loss and failure I have had in my own life, I can look back now and see exactly why I needed it to happen. We all want to win every single time but that can't happen. Winning would no longer be enough and life would be without fulfilment.
Right now, I am learning patience, something I have never had much of. I have always tried to take the path of least resistance because I had no patience and wanted the reward right then and there. What I have failed to realise is that isn't how you sharpen your own iron. I now understand the necessity behind the path of most resistance and why that path needs to be taken as often as possible.
The general purpose of life for each and everyone of us is to grow into the absolute best we can be. As our lives go on, we constantly reflect on who we are and where we want to be. Wouldn't it be a great feeling to say to yourself, "this is exactly who I hoped I would become and I wouldn't want to be anywhere other than right here." Not many can say that, and that's okay because we can change our trajectory.
Find your purpose and you will become fulfilled and want nothing more in this life. To find that purpose, find direction. The only way you can find and keep direction is to find perspective.
Thus far, I have found all four, and for that I am thankful.
The fifth and final thing I am thankful for this year is what makes it all worth it in the end. I'm not just talking about people in general, I am talking about YOUR people. The people that matter to YOU.
Over the past three years, I have made the best life changes I will ever make. While it hasn't always been rainbows and butterflies, I know I will look back in ten years and know that is what set everything I wanted in motion.
One thing I know about moving to the other side of the world that doesn't take a genius to figure out, is the people in your life are going to change. Even with technology, it's hard when you aren't in peoples faces every day and with Covid, it will be over three years before I have gotten to see family and friends in person.
We all have our own journeys and we all have our own busy lives so to fall out of touch with people is normal. There are a lot of people who were there for me when I needed them and vice versa, but when you live 15 hours ahead of everyone, it becomes difficult. One thing I do know, is those people will always be special to me and I will always be there to answer there call when it is needed.
The greatest thing about losing people is it makes room for new people. I have so many incredibly special people here in Australia and it is because I lost some people along the way. There are three in particular (outside Carlie of course) that I would like to highlight.
First is Barb, who has become like a second mother to me. She has a similar energy to my mom and has always been mindful in her approach to me. She has believed in me as more than just a basketball player even when I haven't and has never stopped supporting me or who I was for a second. She has done countless things for me that I will forever be indebted to her because of, but the thing I cherish the most in her is her genuine friendship. It's not often you find people that care about you because of who you are but she demonstrates that every single day. For that, I love her and I am thankful for that day I met her.
The second person is Jason, who I met only this year. Carlie knew Jason for a few years and spoke about him in such a high regard. In February of this year, I had the opportunity to meet Jason and the second I saw him I knew what Carlie was talking about. We meet people in our lives and we just connect with them immediately. Jason has shown me as much, if not more, about life this year than maybe anyone in my entire life. Jason has an absolute gift with people and something the world needs desperately. I pray that everyone gets to experience his magic because he has helped changed my perspective as much as anyone. For that, I love him and I am thankful for the day Carlie brought me to his office.
Last but not least, I need to show love to my guy Nateo. When things were at their darkest, Nate was the one who gave the opportunity to keep moving forward. After the season ended and Carlie and I decided to move on from the club, he never once took it personal. In fact, he was maybe our biggest supporter because we followed what we felt was best. Not many people would show that kind of love and respect to a player that just turned down his offer. This past year, I had the opportunity to reconnect and play another season under Nateo and he reignited my love of everything. He has always been instrumental in making sure Carlie and I are taken care of and I owe a lot to him. He is family and a friend long before he is ever a coach to me. For that, I have a lot of love for him and I am thankful for him taking the chance on me.
At the end of the day, I have so much to be thankful for but this is years of work in progress and results are just beginning to show themselves. That, my friends, is the realisation of patience. I still have so much more to learn and so much more to experience in however long I have left here. One thing I know for sure is, I am going to make the most of it and for that, I am thankful.
I hope you feel the same way I do and feel you have a lot to be thankful for in your own life. If you don't take a look through your own timeline and I bet you find a lot more than you ever thought you had before.
One last thing I am thankful for is to each and everyone of you who take your time out to read through my thoughts. Your support means more than you could ever imagine.