My name is Michael, and I have a problem…

Pity Party

It has been said that the road to recovery begins when a person is willing to admit that they have a problem.  If that is true, then I guess I’d better get started.  Here goes:  “Hello, my name is Michael, and I have a problem.” You see, I recently decided to throw myself a party…a pity party.  Let’s start at the beginning.

Over the years my friends have often referred to me as “The Million Hobby Man.” It’s a moniker rightfully earned, I must admit, due to my incessant habit of starting and subsequently discarding a new hobby every six months or so.  Since my hobbies have such a short half life, over the years I have participated in literally dozens of hobbies.   Recently, just for fun, I decided to make a list of all the hobbies that I’ve started and subsequently discarded since I was a child.  Fear not dear reader, I’m not going to share the list with you, but trust me when I tell you that the resulting list was truly frightening.  After reviewing the list I realized (not surprisingly) that in almost all cases once a hobby gets discarded, it just sits and gathers dust, never again to see the light of day.  But there was one exception to this rule:  Billiards.  For some reason, the game formerly reserved only for Royalty seems to have staying power with me.

About a month ago I picked up a copy of Daniel Coyle’s book The Talent Code, and I was so mesmerized by the concepts Daniel presented that I couldn’t put the book down.  Many of the concepts presented in the book rang true to me, and I couldn’t put the book down until I had read it cover to cover.  It inspired me to set out on a new journey.  I tossed the book aside and ran to my proverbial closet of forgotten hobbies.  I yanked the door open and stood on my tip toes, craning my neck searching through the pile of dusty discarded hobbies in an attempt to locate one that I could use as a test bed for Daniel’s concepts.  Out popped the game of pool.  After many years of tinkering with the game, studying books and VHS tapes (Yikes! Am I dating myself?), I finally made the decision to stick with something.  I want to become a professional pool player.

If you review my posts from the last thirty days, you will see that the first month of my new journey has been filled with energy and excitement.  Then I had one bad day and the train derailed (see my last post).  I’ve been licking my wounds and sulking for a week.  Why do I do this?  Why is it that we (you see, I’m trying to include you as part of my problem too!) tend to be our own greatest critics?  Yes, the doubters, including myself, are legion.  As I sit here sipping my early morning coffee and eating a piece of pecan pie for breakfast, I’m starting to feel a little better.  They say that time heals, and I guess a week of sulking should be enough for me.  It’s time to recharge the batteries, as I have a long journey ahead.  So my plan for today is to not play any pool.  I’m going to sneak into Edgie’s Billiards during my lunch break, grab a table in the corner, and focus on my fundamentals: Stance, Bridge, and Stroke.  It’s time to get serious, start building myelin, and make sure I build it in the right places.  The honeymoon is over, and I’ve got serious work to do.

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5 responses to “My name is Michael, and I have a problem…

  1. Hey, Good luck to you in your quest for your goal. One of the things that is important to the achievement of any goal is to actually have it fairly well defined. Once it has been defined, then you have a destination to reach. Try to imagine how you will feel when you accomplish that goal… imprint that feeling into your brain. Now keep that goal where you can visually refer to it often, and if you ever start to waver, summon up that feeling of accomplishment that you conjured up… and stay in that space until you are motivated to continue.

    • Thanks Judi for your comments. I will take your advice and more clearly define what my goal is. Instead of my goal being to “become a professional pool player,” I will revise it to be more specific and measurable. A couple examples may be (1) enter an open professional tournament and be able to play competitively, or (2) match up against a professional player and play competitively in a match. I’ll work on this as this could provide more focus and keep me motivated throughout my journey. Thanks for the advice!

  2. The game of billiards was said to be created in the 1500’s as a way to pass the time, other games were soon added to the different variations.. In the 19th century a new tradition and style of pool was added, bumper pool.This game was designed to be similar to a lawn game, croquet. This game is mostly played in France, but can be found in other parts of Europe. The bumper pool tables consist of 12-16 bumpers and two pockets. A set of 10 ball is included with the game, like regular billiards.

  3. I have a question. If myelin is formed at an early age, and can’t be developed at a later age (say 63) then tell me why an older person like me who never took up pool until retirement a year ago, goes from a skill level 4 in 9 and 8-ball to a skill level 9 in 9-ball and a 7 in 8-ball in the APA. I think you can get better with the proper practice no matter your age. Ray Sargent

    • Hi Ray. I’m no expert in biological processes such as myelin formation, but it is my understanding that we continue to form myelin throughout our lives. No matter what our age, we still retain the capacity to learn new things. If I recall correctly, our bodies are most efficient at myelin production when we are younger; that’s how kids learn things so quickly, but that doesn’t exclude the rest of us from learning and developing talent later on in life, especially if we have the motivation to do so. Thanks for the comment!

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