“People sacrifice the present for the future. But life is available only in the present.”
Thich Nhat Hanh
This is all fiction.
“Hi, my name’s Jason, what’s yours?”
“Oh hi, uh, my name’s Christy,” she says.
“Nice to meet you, Christy… What program are you in?”
“Nice,” I say with as much enthusiasm as I could even though the conversation was drier than a dead ninety-year-old woman’s beaver. The conversation ultimately lapsed into silence. This is usually how conversations with attractive women went with me. The only conversation starter I could usually think of was about school, seeing that was all I did. That and lacrosse. Seeing that the female lacrosse players at my school didn’t look very, well, attractive, I didn’t know what else to talk about to women who didn’t play lacrosse. They definitely wouldn’t like to talk about what I was reading. No girl wants to talk about Jews being torched in concentration camps at a party, or in general. They probably don’t watch the same shows I do either. The Punisher ripping bullets through bodies and launching fists at faces probably didn’t appeal to the average college girl. But I watch and read other things too, although all the other topics I watch or read about escape my mind when faced with trying to recall them. A wealth of knowledge completely dumped when combated with a pretty face. I wasn’t much of a talker to begin with, so these types of encounters were just not in my favour.
I nod my head, trying to think of something else to say. I turn to face her, “Did you…” “
“My friends are calling me,” she says while already turning away.
“Oh yea, that’s cool. No worries.”
“Sorry, it was nice to meet you, Jackson,” she says, both of us knowing that it certainly wasn’t. Did she just call me Jackson?
So, there I am, again, standing alone amongst a crowd of people. I pull out my phone to show the illusion that I’m not feeling alone or that no one wants to talk to me. Of course, people want to talk to me, I’m talking to people right now on my phone, right? I scroll through empty messages. I take a sip of beer and look around the room again, in an attempt to see a familiar face… nothin’. Why the fuck am I here? Other than the reason of hoping to get laid, I didn’t know. Alas, I called an Uber and went back to my dorm room. Another night of feeling alone. Feeling alone whilst brushing my teeth, flossing, reading, watching a movie, doing lacrosse exercises and lying in bed. Another night of being alone.
Wait a second though buddy. Let’s not make me out to be such a loser, eh? I was actually pretty cool. I slept with more than a couple of women – only slightly more than a couple. I was a good-looking guy, athletic, smart, and sometimes pretty funny too. I had friends. I knew a bunch of people, from the lacrosse team to other sports teams too and even some who didn’t play any sports. I was a cool and decent human being if you ask me. Well, how come you are the only one to ask that then? Why don’t you have a girlfriend? Why are people not blowing up your phone? Why are you so sad and feeling alone all the time? I didn’t know.
Over time the deepest corners of my mind started rotting away at the core. I became more secluded and more alone. My class schedule didn’t help maximize socialization either. Most, if not all, of my classes, were at night, where only single mothers and retired veterans went. Unfortunately, there were no hot single mothers either. After class, I’d just go back to my room, where else was I to go? The only thing I looked forward to was lacrosse practice in the early afternoons. I had one good friend on the team, but other than that I thought the rest of them to be just teammates and complete idiots with no sense of the world around them. They lived in their ghetto of boozing and self-sabotage for some type of notoriety, which I think is false, fleeting and fake. Nice guys, don’t get me wrong, but not my kind of thing. Therefore, besides the regular two-hour practices, plus the additional two hours of practice I did by myself, and the occasional night class, there was nothing much else to make up the days. So the empty time was filled with my thoughts. What to do, how to do it, how much to do, the list went on and on. So I’d read, watch educational videos, practice yoga, do even more lacrosse exercises, and then sometimes I would watch Netflix all day, or porn, or play video games for hours, or stare at the ceiling and wipe tears from my eyes. The possibilities were endless, just like my thoughts.
I remember this one girl though from the other lacrosse team, the new girl, cute and beautiful as can be. So unique and different than the rest of the people I met. Brown hair, blueish eyes, contagious smile. The thing that got me hooked the most was that everyone wanted to be her friend, especially all the guys. Everyone was nice to her, as she was to them. Without sounding too spiritual, the aura that surrounded her was magnetizing and everyone wanted to get closer and to have a piece. Wow, I thought, what a person. However, it left me with more questions than answers. I wondered why everyone liked her, I wanted to know specifics. I also wanted to know how she was raised, her likes and dislikes, values and beliefs, the reasons she got out of bed in the morning and if anyone else woke up with her. Her very being left me without explanation or reason. When someone does that to you, it is wonderful yet confusing. How could I like this person so much? What attracts me to them? Are they attracted to me?
Nevertheless, to cut that story short, it didn’t amount to anything. We had a beautiful loving goodbye at graduation but went our separate ways.
Here’s the thing, I wasn’t not cool and didn’t not have friends or a form of relationships but, it’s just that, I didn’t feel like I had anything, and yet I sacrificed everything.
I dedicated everything to what I thought I wanted and what I thought would get me what I wanted. The truth is, at the end of it all, nothing changed. It just got worse.
Every day was solely focused on being better. Being better at lacrosse, being in better shape or health, being better intelligently or just being a better person than I was the day before. Well, that is quite noble of you, good sir. Why thank you. However, relapses happened frequently. Days of staying in the room and playing video games or sliding down the treacherous YouTube/porn hole were far too common. Disgusted in myself as I relaxed, the mind turned on me so quickly and so often that relaxation was seldom to ever truly arise or be felt. Relaxation then became something on the list that I needed to do, to recover properly for practice. How could I relax, I couldn’t even sleep, I had constant nightmares. Screaming and yelling all the fucking time.
And I wasn’t in lacrosse for the fun of it, I was there to win and take over the sport. From the underground of an average player, I would become the athlete that coaches would dream of and professional teams would be scouting for. I dedicated my life to this thing. To this image of what I hoped to be, because when I looked in the mirror, I was not that.
I thought I was in hell before the surgery, boy was I wrong. Ha, training and putting in a couple of extra hours was child’s play compared to the tortuous, and I mean tortuous therapy and recovery. Hip surgery. Jesus kid, you’re too young to have problems with your hips, thank you, sir, I know. Nevertheless, they happened and it was tough, for me. The best part was waking up in the hospital bed, oddly enough. I felt so taken care of, worry-free and important. The drugs probably had helped lift my mood a bit but still, it was pretty cool, in a weird way.
The worst part was the pain. After shaving some bone, replacing tendons and restructuring labrums, your body has gone through quite the ordeal. The days preceding were filled with hot and cold flashes, acne breaking out on my back, and my family having to help me get dressed, stand up, get food, water and anything else I needed. They were excellent caregivers to a horrible patient. Anyways, “we’re looking at five to six months before you’re able to start playing lacrosse again,” the doctor said. The funny thing is, I never worked harder before in my life. I thought I was dedicated to self-improvement before the surgeries but after, man I lived, slept and breathed it. It was an elegant balance between utter rage and anger towards everyone and everything that subjected me to anything lesser. Even if they didn’t, I made it up. I assumed they did, so I could have some wood for my fire. The fire that made me depressed. The fire that made me better in school and lacrosse. The fire that made me more and almost completely isolated from human interaction. The fire that made me want to fucking win at everything. The fire that made me want to fucking die.
After the first surgery, I’d changed. But after the second, I became something entirely different. Yea I had two hip surgeries, the second more intense and painful than the first and I can’t have gone through all that pain for no reason? I had to make something of myself. It was no longer a question of hope. I had to and I was going to. Shit, I was a normal kid with a normal life. All these other people on social media make millions of dollars or help millions of people. I knew that I could and had to do the same. I was not destined for mediocrity. I was destined for greatness and I was going to achieve that greatness no matter what. I declared a full-on war with the whole fucking world.
I sacrificed my life to become the best lacrosse player anyone had ever seen. I stopped talking to old friends from high school. I didn’t go out to parties. I stopped ingesting anything that was relatively harmful to my body. I ate oatmeal with healthy nuts and seeds, meat and salads with a vinaigrette dressing. That was it, every day. Every practice was me winning. I either beat others on the team or I made sure I beat myself, which ended with vomiting or beating my fist into a wall until it bled. The toxic fumes that exalted from my person were poisonous, but I fucking loved it. When I was angry, I was the best, I could handle any pain or suffering thrown at me. I didn’t worry about the girl I didn’t talk to, or the friends that didn’t check in on me, invite me over, ask how I was doing, help me get food when I was on crutches or my family who didn’t see the suffering in my heart or my cousins who didn’t support me. I had myself and my dreams and that was all I needed.
“Jason!” coach yelled, “what are you doing?” I shake my head and walk over to him, already pissed about what he’s going to say. “This is practice Jason, another hit like that and I’m sitting you next game.”
I walk away silent.
The guys on the team started looking at me funny. I couldn’t tell if they were disgusted or scared of me. I preferred the latter.
“You alright man?” my friend said.
“Get the fuck off me” I responded and carried on with the drill.
Every day I was getting better, my hand-eye coordination was through the roof and my athleticism was improving at an alarming rate. Body was chiselled, head to toe, muscles popping out of my body, a full-fledged weapon. I’d be damned to put it to waste.
As time went on it was a little harder to keep lacrosse killing Jason out of normal school Jason’s life. I’d find myself sitting in my room doing homework, angry. I never really liked homework that much, but man, I would find myself pulsating over my computer, heavy breathing, mind racing. All that fuel that I was using for being disciplined and focused in my sports life, turned into acid and started to burn. I was just sitting at my desk, but my brain was on fire, melting my eyeballs, spilling onto my skin and corroding away the flesh. I felt powerfully combustible. I needed an outlet, I needed to let out this fire, my fuel for greatness, was burning me alive. I started punching the pillow, but that didn’t satisfy. So I punched the wall, still not satisfying. So, I slapped myself in the face. Smashed my guitar to pieces. Threw all my other shit around the room. Punched myself in the face. Then punched myself in the face again. And again. And again.
“That all you got?!” Hit myself again. “C’mon!” Hit myself again. “That’s it?!” Hit myself again. “Fuck YOU!” Again. “C’MON!” Again. “RRRAAAAAAA!!!!!” Again and again and again and again and again and again and again and AGAIN AND AGAIN AND AGAIN AND AGAINNNNNNN!!!!!!! FUCK YOU!!!! YOU FUCKING PIECE OF SHIT!!!!!! C’MOOOOONNNNN!!!!!!!
Blood dripped from my nose onto my shirt. The head bone just above my eye was swollen and my eye was black. “That all you got?” I asked myself again, almost laughing at what I’d done to myself. Looking back, I think I laughed because I didn’t know what else to do. I think that’s when I started to be scared of myself.
After a successful season, I decided to continue my career at another school with a master’s program. Since I was injured for two years with the surgeries, I was able to still play sports while in school, completing the ones I missed. A coach at one of the best schools in the country contacted me and wanted me to play for his team. Of course, I said yes. During the summer I spent my days working out, practicing, eating and sleeping. The same routine just in a different place. The summer training the new coach had given me was tough, I loved it. Finally, a school where people will have the same mentality I had about being better. Somewhere I could fit in and find some friends that want to go out or just hang out in the dorms and talk, with me! It’s a far bigger school too, I could probably meet a girl that likes me too. That would be nice, someone to talk to. Someone who would care about me. She could believe in me too. Someone else who believes in me. I was very excited to go to this new school. I was going to work harder, become better and more fulfilled than I have ever been before. I could maybe be happy for a bit too. That would be nice.
As I arrived at my new school of hopes and dreams, I felt the opportunities ooze from the buildings. A huge campus with new training facilities and equipment. This is awesome I thought. We unpacked my stuff at my house, my roommate an old friend, not very close but close enough to live together for the year. He worked so he wasn’t around very much anyway. After we got everything set up in my room, my parents left and I sat on my bed and stared at the wall. I had to go to an all-athlete meeting at school in the afternoon, so I passed the time on my computer, watching YouTube videos, the same ones I’ve been watching since my recovery days. I drove over to the main campus, about a thirty-minute drive, parked, and walked over to the stadium where all the athletes were gathered to sit through the opening statements of the coaches and athletic director. There must have been at least five hundred kids. A kind of pep rally, if you will. I walked up the stairs of the massive stadium to find a seat. I didn’t know anyone on my team yet or anybody else at the school for that matter, so I ended up sitting pseudo alone, amongst a crowd of people. I arrived back at my room, stretched, ate and watched TV and then went to bed.
I had my first class the next day, walked in and sat alone. People dragged in, sipping from soda cans or munching on fast food, they talked about sports and parties and how drunk they were or how hungover they are. The teacher talked in a way that made him seem like he only believed what the textbook said and that its words were law. People took notes, complained about the homework, and dragged on out of the classroom the same way they dragged in. Unnervingly, I was starting to feel alone.
At our first practice, I met some of my teammates. They were chilled-out guys, looking forward to meeting the rest of the team, like myself. After the formal ice-breaking introductions and the practice itself, we all headed into the change room. I heard random chatter like, don’t be a pussy dude, bro her ass is so, I fucking hate morning practices, fuck you man, no fuck you, you going to call her? Hell no, I’m going to score a hundred goals this year, what’d you get last year? Uh fifteen. Want to go to Taco Bell? You going to the party tonight?
I sat there tying my shoes, listening to the guys talk. No one said anything to me, as I said nothing to them. I picked up my stuff and left. That night I gave myself another black eye and a broken nose.
So here we are Jason. Another school, different people, different coaches, different program, yet you still feel the same. I still boiled inside. I felt so angry, but mostly, if I was being honest, I felt really sad. My expectations of the school and the people were completely tarnished and my vision of myself was utterly ruined. I felt as I did before, perhaps even worse. I was again, feeling so alone.
I dropped out and moved home.
I worked so hard to become this champion I envisioned. A star athlete and everything that came with it. Four years of my life I dedicated to this sport and my future in it. I had it all lined up to continue doing it too, but I left. Dropped it completely in under a week. Four years of sacrifices, suffering and pain, gone. Just gone. Nothing to show for it. Now, I’m in complete vanity and don’t know where I am going or what I am doing, or even know who I am. I still feel angry from time to time and sad. I haven’t found a girlfriend yet and rarely ever go out to party or hang out with friends. Things just go on. The funny thing is, I don’t miss lacrosse at all. I just don’t care about it anymore. Maybe I’ll regret not chasing my potential one day, but right now, my thinking is fuck that stupid game.
I can feel the pain and anger I was in, but I can’t remember it. I know the feeling but I can’t recall it being there. I just feel nothing. Four years of my life and it feels like they never happened. However, on the rare occasions sparked by a family meal, a puppy or a hug from a friend, I feel happy, usually how happiness works, right? I also remember my friends, the few I did have. I remember riding to practice with them and singing along to the radio. I remember the change room chants with the team before a game. I remember my mom and dad in the stands. I remember saying goodbye to a special girl. I remember feeling love. Funny enough, on the rare occasions I do feel like that, I don’t feel so alone.