Here I am again, sitting at my desk in the warehouse office. I am supposed to be doing “job related” activities like processing returns, scheduling pickups, inventory management, answering the phone and pretending to care about whatever the caller’s dilemma may be when in reality, I couldn’t care less! But what am I doing? I’m thinking about pool. I’m thinking about the pool group pages which I manage. I’m thinking about tournament promotion ideas and I’m thinking about my blog.
So, as I sit here putting my job, well being, and future in jeopardy, this thought enters my mind: what is it about this game that has this affect on me? What is it about this game that has this effect on so many others? What is it about this game that can take up so much of my time, monopolize my thoughts, and keep me searching for answers even when I’m away from the pool room? What gives it this controlling power?
I can remember when I first fell in love with this game. I had played pool before, but not with any passion. Not with any purpose. Not with any determination or desire. This one time, this one instance though, it all came together and sparked a fire inside of me like nothing and no one else has ever been able to do before or since! What did it? What was the catalyst? I won money! I had never played for money before. In fact, the thought had never even crossed my mind because I actually hated the game! Yeah, that’s right, I hated pool! But, this time it was different! This time a new challenge presented itself, more than just knocking balls in the holes and celebrating an empty victory with a cold beverage. This time, making that game winning shot was rewarded with cold, hard cash! Suddenly, this game which had been so boring, so stupid, so pointless, now had a purpose!
It required skill with an element of luck which, when a wager was placed upon the outcome, transformed this boring, stupid, pointless game into an adrenaline pumping, emotional roller coaster of excitement! I started to notice things like angles, spin, speed and how they affected the shot. Things I had never cared to notice before. But now, when the outcome of the game mattered, when it had a direct impact on my wallet, I wanted to know everything there was to know about it!
When that night was over, I remember feeling an overwhelming sense of accomplishment! I had ALL of THEIR money! I had done it! It was MY skill against all of theirs! It was MY desire to win that had pushed me! Not a coin flip, not a lucky guess, not luck of the draw, it was ME! I had done it better than all of THEM! Granted, none of us in that group were of any account by the standards which I gauge my game today. In fact, we were nothing more than bangers who hadn’t clue! But at the time, it was huge to me! That was the first time I had succeeded in something which I had chosen myself! It wasn’t an assignment handed out by a teacher. It wasn’t a test on a lecture by some monotone professor. It was something I had chosen on my own. I had put myself in that situation and I had handled it! That night was life changing for me!
Ever since that night, which has now been nearly 30 years ago, the game has never left my thoughts. Sure, there have been breaks during which I played very little, but it was always there! During those breaks, I think it is safe to say the game was on my mind and in my thoughts even more so than when I was playing! I can remember dreaming about a shot I had missed for MONTHS after missing the shot! I can remember replaying scenarios in my mind of games I should have played differently. What that night did to me was open my eyes. In my desire to learn and play the game better I was exposed to just how beautiful the game really is! Masterful control of the cue ball with nothing more than a stick with a piece of leather glued on the end is mind boggling! All the things which can be done with that stick, to a round ball, then to transfer that control to another ball with the first one? Really? Think about that for just a moment! Then, to be able to use that control to win a game against someone with the same desire and quest for knowledge is the absolute most exhilarating activity available to man!
What I have realized, is that the possibilities are endless, the scenarios are countless, and knowledge is infinite! There are those who might scoff at how little my skills have progressed in almost 30 years of playing. But that’s alright. I am not a “natural” talent. I have had to work for every, little increase in my ability! For some, it has come easy, and for others, it’s even more difficult than for me! That is part of the beauty of it! Even now that I am closing in on half a century of time on this planet, with my body failing me and my eyesight waning, that desire to learn is still there! That fire still burns! I continue the quest to the best of my ability! One can say I love the game. One can say I am addicted to the game. I say, the game is a part of me! It is my passion! It has become my life! That, I suppose, is why it does all those things to me!
This is the lag…
Hit ‘em good, my friends!
Author: Kelvin Greenleaf
Editor: Shaylyn Troop