Be still and know…
Stillness is the enemy of an analytical mind.
The analytical brain is in constant mode. In my case, I can have 10 different topics running through my mind at once or a single one with 10 different sub-tangents. Rarely does it shut off.
And yet here I stood before stillness. Stillness of water, nature and life.
My mind could only analyze one thing: Peace.
The beauty of Bonaparte Lake in north-central Washington state – and ‘No Service’ on my phone – was just what was needed for an overly-taxed mind.
Working in sports has been beyond what I expected.
I’ve traveled, interviewed and made friends with people I never could have imagined. I’ve been challenged to think outside the box. Along the way, I’ve discovered gifts and talents I didn’t know were there.
I mean, how often do you have to think about going viral or animated emojis when you work in insurance? Not very.
Yet, I found myself needing to get away from sports. Disconnect, if you will.
Anything and everything in sports happens on social media. That’s what drew me to Twitter. Sports media made Twitter the place to be. Conversation, opinion, insight, play-by-play, it all happened on Twitter. Through my curation skills, I was able to carve out a unique niche and take the plunge full-time into sports.
It gave me a voice in sports.
I wasn’t alone. Folks who struggled to find their place in the big sports world also found a voice. But, over the past few years that voice has become something beyond just sports. It’s become noise.
Stick to sports.
Fans who were drawn to Twitter were a lot like me. They could connect with many of their favorite sports writers, broadcasters and personalities. Questions could be asked of them and they would answer. Respectful banner would take place.
Twitter was the world’s largest sports bar.
But, along the way, sports media changed. It empowered sports media. They discovered that their tweets “drove clicks” and engagement. Their employers (newspapers, magazines, websites, publishers) needed them in the volatile landscape that is today’s journalism.
Sensing their power, some decided to go beyond sports. They hated being told to stick to sports. It was their Twitter account and they were going to do with it whatever they wanted. If a user didn’t like it, they were told to unfollow.
A few of the more popular sports media tweeted less and less about sports and more about politics, race and culture. The tweets, however, were less about providing information on those topics and more about asserting their personal opinions as gospel. Anyone who disagreed be damned.
Depending on the day, Twitter could become a toxic place. No longer could you have an opposing opinion without a verified sports person putting a user on blast and sharing said blast with their thousands of followers, thus creating a Twitter-mob.
Fans were by no means innocent. I’ve seen tweets sent to media that were vulgur, repulsive, abusive and threatening. How any rational human being can willingly choose to tweets such things is beyond me.
Then again, I understand the broken world we live in.
Some act like it is a new phenomenon. It’s not. The condition of it has grown steadily worse year after year. Actions and events that elicit “What kind of world is this?” or “What’s happened to our country?” responses are often made by people who simply haven’t been paying attention.
All I want to say is, “What rock have you been living under?” – but I know it would fall on deaf ears.
To a degree, I understand why sports media choose not to stick to sports. They have a voice and they want to use it to speak out on hot topics and (in some cases, perceived) injustices. They’re not afraid of what their employers will do because their employers need them.
What once was a platform that obliterated the dividing line between fans and media has now helped create even more division.
The toxicity has driven me away countless times.This kind of atmosphere wears on you mentally. But, if you work in sports and social media, you have to be present.
For an analytical mind like mine, I am constantly evaluating the topics, the opinions and weighing them against my own. I want to keep learning, even if it’s not about sports, but not if each side is focused solely on having the louder voice.
It is that climate that I needed to get away from. I needed to refresh my mind. Easier said than done.
There is no rest for a connected analytical mind. Evaluating situations, feeling like no one else can do your job – turning the brain off is not a luxury I can afford. If I’ve got a connection, I’m working.
The closer we got to stillness, the more anxious I became. What would I miss? What if there was a work breakdown? What if there were questions that needed answering?
What if, what if, what if…
Peace, be still.
Here, there were no political debates or Twitter fights or “just unfollow me” or “What is wrong with this country?” or “stick to sports”.
There was simply stillness.
And a choice.
Choose to dwell in the negativity that is sports and social media or dwell in peace and stillness.
For (almost) two days, I chose the latter.
Clarity, rejuvenation, stillness.
Today, Bonaparte Lake is a memory. When chaos ensues on social media or work, the mind analyzes and goes back to the stillness. I wish I could say always, but the analytical mind…sigh.
It will harken back just often enough to remind me to keep it fresh and focused.
I’ve also come to the realization that I am nearing the end of my sports dream. I wanted to be a well known writer or broadcaster in the sports world. I thought that it could use a thoughtful, reasoned voice of a fan in either word or voice form. I realize now that I don’t fit in.
I’m not controversial or political enough. I don’t stay in one lane and passionately defend it against all who oppose. I won’t challenge people who think differently than me for the sole purpose of proving I’m right. Why bother when they don’t have ears to hear it?
The older I get, the less tolerance I have for that kind of mindset. Teach me, don’t lecture me with a closed mind. I want to learn from others, but I want to be treated with respect.
Respect of a fellow human being is the fundamental basis for any conversation or relationship. There are different levels of respect. Respecting someone as a person doesn’t mean you agree with everything they stand for.
It’s a simple acknowledgement of their right to live on this earth. If we start from there, we’re golden.
So here’s to the analytical minds out there. We are thinkers, creators, problem-solvers and listeners. We observe in order to learn. We seek answers and understanding. We desire order in possibilities. We grow through our craving for knowledge. We find safety in thought.
Be still and know…