Last week I posted about the excitement of being there. At attending a big event, like a sports performance or a music concert, and really feeling connected to something bigger than yourself. There truly is nothing like the feeling of actually being there.
However, life isn’t just about watching or listening. There’s always more to life than just being a spectator. To really get the most out of things, you have to be a participant.
I was never going to be able to wield a cricket bat like Greg Chappell or Steve Waugh. I was never going to be able to send down thunderbolts like Dennis Lillee, or tweak a ball like Shane Warne. But I could have a deadset go at it. I always loved cricket and even though I had little natural talent, I was determined to test myself, to see how I could perform. I ended up playing club cricket for several years, and even took on one of the most daunting roles – the opening batsman – the guy who has to face the quickest bowlers when they’re at their fiercest and the ball is new and hard. I never achieved anything remotely resembling greatness, but I managed to carve out a niche as a stubborn customer who was difficult to get out, even if I didn’t score too many runs. I even ended up playing in a premiership team. I also played many seasons of indoor cricket, winning several premierships and even playing against the legendary Australian cricketer Max Walker.
Football was always another story. Experiences in school made it pretty clear I didn’t have the physical attributes to participate in such a brutal sport. But though the competitive aspects of the game were beyond me, I could still pick up some of the skills-based ones. I taught myself how to kick a football pretty well. Even now, many years later, I can participate in a kick-to-kick session and people will be convinced I must have played the game.
As last week’s post made clear, music is another of my great loves. I may never perform in an arena before thousands of adoring fans, but I can still be more than just a spectator. I can also be a musical creator. I’ve played guitar since my early twenties. I’m hardly Eric Clapton or Mark Knopfler but it’s a nice feeling to be able to pick up a guitar and bang out a few chords or a simple melody. Being a lefty, I’ve even taught myself a few upside down chords, so I can pick up a right-handed guitar and not sound too bad on it. And I have had at least one opportunity to get up on stage and play with a band – at a work function many years ago. I wasn’t plugged in, so nobody could hear when I missed a bunch of changes, but it was a lot of fun.
Of course, the main area where I’ve made myself a participant rather than just a spectator is in the writing. I love reading and it’s something I’ll always do. But somewhere way back in the past, I told myself I don’t just have to consume these stories. I can produce them as well. And I have. It’s something I’m most proud of, out of all my achievements.
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