On Momentum

Rolling the rock up the hill one more time.

One of the debates that fascinates me the most in sports is that over momentum – whether it exists, whether you can quantify it, and whether you can do anything to preserve or destroy it.

But one of the reasons the idea fascinates me so much is because it’s one of those windows into real life that sports rarely provide. Most fans try to ascribe real-life values or lessons to sports, but if you’re a close enough observer, those comparisons rarely live up to the standards. We might like to imagine that the winners are always the good guys, but we’ve learned that’s often far from the case, both on the field and off the field.

But momentum is different. At least in my life experiences, momentum does exist, both in sports and in life. We may not be able to quantify it, and it certainly isn’t something that can be predicted, but that doesn’t mean it’s fictional. Even if you’re Sisyphus trying to push the rock up the hill, you need to start somewhere.

Most people who’ve shot a basketball or thrown a baseball will tell you that it often gets easier as you go. You get into a rhythm, you become more comfortable with your motions, and things settle into place.

And that’s the same whether you’re on the court, on the field, or in your house. Often, the hardest part of doing anything is getting that momentum started.

Nobody wants to for a run after sitting on the couch too long – your time is going to be slow, your legs are going to hurt, and your chest is going to pound. Nobody wants to go back to work after a week on vacation – your commute is going to be invariably drawn out and miserable. And nobody wants to start a diet after a week of beer and wings – you’ll end up lying in bed trying to fight off the urge for a late night snack.

But if you can get the momentum going, all the sudden things get easier. Not easy mind you, but easier.

The difference between momentum in life and sports is that difference between easy and easier. In real life, there’s almost always no interception, no shorthanded goal nor a late-inning home-run, waiting to turn the entire timbre of the game of life on its head.

It’s incremental. Taking the first step doesn’t mean that you can suddenly sprint through a marathon without breaking a sweat, but it makes it easier to take the second step. Then the third step. It sounds so simple, but it’s painfully hard to remember sometimes.

Just because you ran a few miles over the course of a couple of days, had an extra glass of water and a salad for lunch, and stayed late at work one night doesn’t mean you’ll wake up the next Monday 20 lbs. lighter, with more energy and a shiny new promotion.

It just means that it will be that much easier to keep those good things going.

I said I can’t race forever, can’t raise the rock so high.
She said no one said you have to, let go and take your time.
 Kevin Devine, No One Says You Have To

Lately, I’ve been trying to roll my rock up the hill again, and it’s working. But, as momentum does, it’s working incrementally.

I’m far from an Adonis or the perfect picture of mental, physical, and career-success, but those things are going in the right direction. And I’m learning how to be okay with that.

I’ve often become frustrated because life doesn’t deliver that game-changing grand slam and rapid results. But I’m becoming okay with playing small-ball, with letting the little changes add to the momentum that brings about a big change.

So what’s the point of all this? Why am I writing all this down, and why did I post it on a blog that hasn’t seen an update in half a year?

In case it wasn’t already obvious, I’m going to try to start pushing my rock up this particular hill again. It won’t be the same as it was in the first iteration – regular Monday Morning Updates, at least in their constant and usual form, are probably still not making a full-time return now. Posts will probably come in fits and spurts, with a week of several posts being followed up by one with none as work and life get in the way.

But that’s okay. I’m going to let go, take my time, and let it come as it may, or at least try. If you’ve read this site before, thanks, and if this is your first time, well, welcome, I guess.

Hopefully you’ll come back from time-to-time, and hopefully, I’ll give you a reason to return. But it’s going to be a slow build.

This was the first step in that process. Here’s to the next one being a bit easier.

Brendan Murray is a sometimes blogger, and the owner of ChinMusicPod.com. Follow him on Twitter @MurraySportTalk


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