Monday, November 23, 2009

The Magnet that is Santa Cruz

Alas, I am in the same time zone as my family. It's been quite a journey since I've last found myself here in the DC area. Yet the stories that seem to fall from my tongue after the usual question "How was Japan?" seem to do it no justice.

As for my time in Santa Cruz, California, it was ideal. The home I stayed in was impeccable. My bathroom alone was bigger than my entire place in Tokyo. Not to mention it was located just 2 blocks from the beach. And if that wasn't enough, only 2 days into my stay, a good friend of mine offered his jeep to me so I could have transpo throughout the duration of my stay. Truly a blessing.

As much as I'd like to say I returned to the area and took the states by storm, it was quite to the contrary. More than anything I relaxed and basked in the familiarity that I'd missed in all those days spent outside the states. Basked in Burritos, Pizza and long drives with loud music. It was just what the doctor ordered.

My plans changed 37 times in the month that I was there, as opportunity after opportunity continued to present themselves. Each of which looked to be just right for the next step. At first it was a month long stay in Jamaica. Then it was a few weeks in the Dominican Republic. But ultimately, I settled on a month in Los Angeles. A move that has the potential to impact my path in a myriad of ways. Both financially and musically. Needless to say, I'm intrigued to see exactly what lies ahead in the days to come.

A few weeks back, I was invited to play (basketball) at an open gym at Santa Cruz High School by a friend of mine. The experience was refreshing, so much so, that I returned again the following week. When that run was completed, the coach thanked us for coming out and informed us that the gym would no longer be open on account of their Varsity Boys season starting.

It took me a moment to size up the feasibility of such a choice, before I approached the coach and extended an offer. Although I've never coached a day in my life, "I'd love to come help out., contribute to the program in any way you see fit." He accepted the offer, and so began the birth of my love affair with the Santa Cruz Varsity Boys Basketball Team.

It's a shame that in the realm of sports, being nice is often times a fault. The kids I've been working with all have hearts of gold. A characteristic that holds little to no value when it comes to competition. And in many instances may prove to be detrimental to the team. Hence, the mission laid before me was to light a fire in a few of the less fire-full. A challenge I gladly accepted.

Lamb or Lion? has been our motto. And it's been absolutely delightful to see the transformation many of the kids have made in only a matter of weeks. Not only in terms of heart, but also skill-wise. Working with them has been a blessing because almost all of them are very coachable kids who are open to criticism and diligent in practice. This entire experience has filled me with a greater sense of purpose and my influence is becoming visible through time. And I say that in no selfish way at all. As the head coach is truly guiding the ship and doing so with a sense of confidence and clarity that amazes me from time to time.

Working with him is an inspiration in itself. Often times I catch myself daydreaming about how much more enjoyable my high school basketball experience would have been had I been lucky enough to have a coach like him.

Needless to say, this opportunity to fulfill yet another life long dream seemed to present itself almost effortlessly. My proclamation prior to this experience was, "I will not move back to Santa Cruz, no matter what!" But it just so happened that a friend of mine decided to return to Africa for a 6 month stretch. This opened up his place for that entire period.

When I stepped back and looked at the grand scheme of things, and attempted to make sense of the opportunities being presented, I wavered a bit, before surrendering to the obvious momentum that was/is guiding me to accompany this squad throughout their season.

That being said, I'll be returning to SC for at least the duration of the season, if not longer. As usual, many possibilities lie ahead. But that's a step that feels just right.

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