Be Like Mike

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When I was a young girl I was OBSESSED with Michael Jordan. I had a life size poster of him at the end of my hall that I would kiss every time I passed by. I swooned like one of the screaming, crying girls you see in the Beatles documentaries any time he came on TV. Sure, I thought he was gorgeous with a dashing smile and a strong, chiseled body that could soar above the rim, but looking back, I recently realized the real root of my obsession. HE WAS THE BEST.

Michael Jordan was sexy because he was the best basketball player on the planet. Period. Talent is sexy. But talent mixed with passion and dedication is irresistible. I still remember exactly where I was when I found out he was getting a divorce from his wife. I was sitting in a cab going northbound on 2nd Ave. at 29th St. in New York City when it was announced on the news. For a moment, I was flooded with exhilaration and hope that perhaps, one day, the now single Michael Jordan would meet me and requite my mad, passionate love for him. But upon further investigation, I discovered that Mrs. Jordan was leaving him because he had cheated on her. (Insert abrupt record scratch). In the blink of an eye, my world came crashing down and I learned that my knight in a shining Bulls uniform was not the perfect man I had fantasized him to be. Uh, in two blinks actually. I did have the thought, “Well, Juanita must not have been the best wife to him, so maybe we are meant to be after all!” But then I shook that thought out of my no longer naive little head and realized my hero had turned out to be a pig.

The point of this story is not that all men are pigs. The truth is I don’t know for a fact what #23 did in his free time on the road. Nor do I have the right to judge anybody’s decisions but my own. The actual point of this lil’ anecdote is that I often regret not being the best at anything. I was great at a lot of things, but never the best. I was a great soccer player, great snowboarder, great student, great annoyer of my older brother, and a great driver, to name a few. Any of you men out there saying “pfft, yeah right” to themselves about that last one, remind me to tell you about the time I smoked Tobey Maguire and Leo DiCaprio driving official Nascar race cars on the Texas Motor Speedway.

To be the best at anything, I believe it not only requires God-given talent and relentless hard work, but also single-minded focus. MJ was all basketball. I mean, he dabbled in baseball, but we all know how that turned out. Meryl is all acting, Muhammed Ali all fight, Einstein all science, Shakespeare all pen. You get the picture. So did I do myself a disservice by having too many interests? I got into UC Berkeley because of my “well-roundedness” so that’s saying something, right? I got to experience a wide spectrum of fun and developed a laundry list of skills that I can pull from at any time. But I am still super competitive and I want to be the best, dammit! So the regret is still there. Why didn’t I only focus on soccer and skip all the other sports? Surely I would’ve gotten a scholarship to Stanford, been on the US national team, and had a few gold medals by now! Why didn’t I only focus on acting as a child? Surely I would have an Oscar by now! Instead, I just have a colorful array of memories and some less than stellar performances in movies you’ve probably never heard of. And look at Leo! He does have God-given talent, single-minded focus, and years of hard work behind him and yet, that much deserved Best Actor Oscar still eludes him. So whats the key?

The truth is not everyone can be like Mike. None of us know the destiny of this lifetime, so all we can do is strive to be the best version of ourselves. A little golden statue or a championship ring are noble goals to shoot for, but only we can be the true judge of our best self. So how do we break through the conditioning and the fear that holds us back from our highest potential? Over the last 15 years I have been trying to figure out exactly that. So often we find ourselves doing what society says we should be doing, or not following our dreams because someone along the way made us feel like we weren’t good enough to achieve them. I have read countless books trying to understand how the human mind works, what the meaning of life is, how the laws of the universe work, and what the hell my purpose is. Ive made tons of mistakes, spent years paralyzed by fear, learned about different spiritual traditions, tried on different “purposes”, loved deeply, hurt deeply, played small, manifested big, thought I knew everything, realized I knew nothing and attempted to please everyone along the way. Woooo, it was exhausting. And even though I feel more authentic and clear about who I am than ever before, I know I will be learning, growing, and shifting until the day I die.

We don’t have to be the best AT anything to be significant and sexy. We all have inherent value and unique gifts, and we all play a powerful part in the miraculous unfolding of this life. Michael Jordan wouldn’t be the best without you and me sitting in the stands cheering him on. Meryl wouldn’t be the best without the director, cinematographer, editor, and the audience to play for. We are the stars of our own lives and the support team for others. To me, a big part of the purpose of life is to find out what makes you happy and to generate JOY. Joy feels good. And when you feel good, people around you feel good. Crossing over Joe Dumars, flying through the air with his tongue out, and dunking on Hakeem Olajuwon’s head made Jordan feel real good. And when you feel real good, doing what you love, others find you sexy. So follow your heart, find your joy, stay focused on what you desire no matter what anyone else might think, and be the best version of unique, magnificent, sexy YOU.

3 thoughts on “Be Like Mike

  1. Claire Tschirky

    Kelly, just read your Michael Jordan blog and wanted to let you know, that you are the best in everything you do–friend, writer, daughter, sister, I’m sure girlfriend, actress, lover of life and obviously of joy. YOU are enough as you are and as you have been created. Be content with your greatness and it will never fail you! Love you.

  2. Linda

    I love your list ending with Shakespeare is all pen. Whoa. That hits home. I agree with the prior comment… that you are the BEST at so many things to those of us who love you and are inspired by you. And, I’m so happy that you’re adding your written voice to the mix because you’re a great talent there, too. One day (maybe soon?) your book will be THE best of its kind. Love you! xo

  3. Elijah

    Kelly, you are such a fantastic writer. LOVE this post and the previous one! YES!!!
    This post has me thinking about what it means to be the best. As you point out, Michael Jordan isn’t the best without us cheering on the sidelines. But “the best” seems an elusive and subjective quality at times, too. So many things we title “the best” are due to an agreed upon social norm that can be considered relative at times. Just thinking out loud. Society has standards and litmus tests for what the best is but those standards are exclusionary by nature and definitely leave people without the awards and accolades forgetting that their life is powerfully meaningful. As you say, “We all have inherent value and unique gifts, and we all play a powerful part in the miraculous unfolding of this life.”

    TRUTH! xoxo

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