Thursday, June 11, 2015

Andy Warhol, LeBron James, and the necessity for mindfulness in all things

Maybe it's Andy Warhol's influence (you know, he said, "Machines have less problems. I'd like to be a machine, wouldn't you?"), and maybe I think about all that too much, and read far too many biographies on that time in modern American history, but I think it's true.  

In union with this long-standing belief about people as machines, I've been thinking about LeBron James a lot lately-- how he calls his basketball career his craft, and he treats it as such. I've been thinking a lot about how he plays, how mindful he is about the energy on the court. How he assists when the assisting is good, but when it isn't, he becomes everyman. He never succumbs to gravity, at least not on the court.

There is a lot to be learned in that. 

Tim talks about basketball as this longstanding history, this David and Goliath story, that is simultaneously constant and ever-changing. A few days ago, on the way home from the YMCA, he was explaining to me how when he gets on a court, alone, he can envision the entire game he's playing. He envisions the players, their moves, and he responds to it all.  It's like a tangible transcendental meditation, which, at least in Tim's case, makes that outlet a necessity. 

I've been thinking a lot about that too lately, and I think it applies to the machine-- the LeBrons and Andys-- that ability to know yourself so well in relation to a craft, that you can easily press through the weight of anything. So much so, that you don't even feel it. It's like everyone else is just a ghost passing through; there is no way you can succumb to negativity because you have absolute mindfulness. You know the vision to be so true, and because of that truthfulness, you know how to make it real. 

That's kind of beautiful. 

Pressing further into this idea, Dwayne Wade is currently an ABC broadcaster for the NBA finals, in which he talked about how LeBron takes care of himself better than anyone (which I think, especially for Wade, is admirable). I thought about that for a while: the kind of confidence that comes with knowing your body so well, that you can trust yourself to make your visions a reality. Knowing your body so well, that you consciously and truthfully know how to read yourself, and the adjustments you need to make to your game to have longevity (a la Tim Duncan).  

All this thinking comes down to one thing, really: why is that only admirable in sports? why, when someone does something to improve their health and mindfulness, is it seen as shaming those who don't? 

An example of this phenomenon: yesterday, my friend explained to me that she had to leave a facebook community because they said she was fat-shaming and supporting the patriarchy. Her offense: she posted a photo of her cousin and her cousin's husband. Both had been 300+ lbs and lost over 100 lbs together. In the caption, her cousin said, "losing weight together has made our marriage stronger."

The thing is, I don't understand when personal experience became the banner of the absolute. I don't understand why it seems necessary to constantly emphasize a world of absolutes when most all of us live between them. And more than that, I don't understand the necessity to control every single thing that exists outside of us. 

In this patched together mentality, it seems to me that if we were more mindful of ourselves and our own strength and character, then we would have far greater success in creating our future realities. It probably goes without saying that we'd be happier because we'd be more self-reliant. Modernity has been constantly constructed on self-reliance (thank you, Elon Musk), and mindfulness appears to be far more compatible with progress than forcing absolutes. 

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