(Now imagine a much smaller, much paler person doing this in her bedroom mirror)
Realizing that you’ve done more than what should be possible is one of the best feelings in the world.
A few days ago I was playing squash with a friend. On one water break we paused to watch two guys on another court; at least one of them was on the Queen’s squash team, and although he seemed to be beating his partner they were playing really well.
They were on a higher level than I have ever played at.
My friend and I went back to playing, but soon we saw that the two guys had finished and for some reason they had walked down to watch us. They stood outside the glass and seemed to be commenting on what we were doing.
Having them stand there, watching, talking, changed everything.
Once upon a time I played squash for a club. It was only for a few years until I turned 14 or 15, but I back then I was used to playing in tournaments and to people watching me.
When we gained an audience, two players who are certainly much better than us, my friend and I started playing better. Although I’m usually inconsistent I can say without exaggeration that I was faster, stronger, and more precise in every shot. Just remembering how I played, my pulse races.
I wish that the two guys had hung around for ages and ages, but they didn’t. When it was over my friend commented on how much better I had been playing, and maybe its just me, but maybe he sounded incredulous.
I could hardly believe it myself. I’m going to remember that squash session for a very long time, and I want more moments like that. I can’t help but think it would be great if I could play so well without having an audience to spur me on, but whether that is possible or not isn’t the point. The point is how amazing it felt to achieve.
I was reminded strongly of a TED Talk where Jane McGonigal talks about gaming and “Epic Wins”. She says that
“an epic win is an outcome that is so extraordinarily positive that you had no idea that it was even possible until you achieved it… and when you get there, you are shocked to discover what you are truly capable of…”
I had a real life Epic Win. Now because I don’t game much, and I’m horrible at it, for me the odds of doing more than the possible may be higher in real life than in virtual realities. And depending on who you are, it may be higher in games. Or in cooking. Or in Foosball.
Regardless of what you’re doing, try without thinking too much, and do without reservation. There’s always the chance that you’ll create an Epic Win, and gain a high that costs nothing.
I’m playing squash again tonight. I can’t expect a similar miracle, but I’ll go onto the court happy, recalling what happened last time.
Plus I have new court shoes!