Aim for the Middle

…so after the last game of the tournament is played, I walk off the court and pick up the errant basketball that rests out of bounds underneath the towering hoop. As I approach the corner of the court, a sudden impulse takes my fancy.

My palm spreads around the sphere… fingernails dig into the seams, clenching slowly until the ball is “palmed” in my grip and raised behind my right ear. At the same time, my hips wind backwards as my left foot steps forward…

With my first right-foot step, my arm springs up-and-over, slinging the ball high into the air like a Trebuchet… for a flickering transitory moment, I see my index finger point to the center of the orange square emblazoned across the transparent backboard. The momentum carries my outstretched hand and arm across my chest. I feel a slight twinge of pain along the sinew of my Pectoralis Majora that warms into the soothing pleasure of deep muscle exertion.

I continue walking off the court, as the basketball rises higher and higher into the rafters… hovering in the air, with a slight sideways rotation.

Whispering over the excited shouts of the boys and young men in the gymnasium, the ball falls through the net with a smooth swish.

A sudden sweeping cacophony of joy and surprise pours forth from the sidelines and audience, macho skeptical posturing as well.

Challenges ring out… that I must repeat so fortunate an effort, in order for it to be truly believed.

Without hesitating, I reach into the nearby equipment closet and grasp a familiar oblong ball.

After a quick glance at my intended target, I let sail with a tight spiral that caroms off the center of the backboard and becomes ensnared in the net… flopping about like a fish.

The ante rises. Though the wonder of skill and craft is all too apparent, it simply will not be believed. Surely, it is some rare manifestation of “luck” or deceitful guile.

I stoop to one knee, in the far corner of the court, and again drop the football through the net… and again, and again. The challenges are quieted.

With dewy eyes of pure childish wonder, one of my beloved little ones asks me: “How do you do that?”

Smiling broadly at his trusting admiration, I tousle his hair and murmur: “I aim for the middle.”


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