Sunday, June 01, 2008

On not being Gretzky

Today I went to watch my husband play ice hockey for the first time in a long time. The occasion was a now-traditional memorial fixture between his team and a favourite rival. A few years back, while returning from a game against my husband's team, a member of the opposition was killed in a car accident. Since then, every year, the two teams meet for this game over and above the usual fixtures which see them facing off against each other.

It needs to be mentioned that my husband plays for a recreational team of ... ahem... more mature players. The rules are adapted accordingly or they would spend a great deal more of their time recovering from injury - especially since they don't trouble themselves with such minor issues as "hockey season". They play all year through!

What I saw today was:

  • some guys with the head knowledge of where they needed to be and what to do when they got there, but no longer possessing the speed to get there in time (my husband falls into this category)
  • others who lack the instinct to transfer the drills they practise to the game - utterly devoid of a hockey brain, but out there trying their best
  • some who had learnt to play the game too late in life ever to master the techniques needed to be able to play with any degree of aplomb
Wayne Gretzky famously said "I skate to where the puck is going, not to where it is/has been" (depending on which version of the quote you encounter). This presupposes that you have been playing the game long enough to have developed some skills, that you have the ability to predict with accuracy where the puck is going, and that you have the ability to do something meaningful with it when you get there.

With learning technology developing as fast as it is, and new apps appearing and disappearing at an alarming rate, I often feel that I am doing pretty much what my poor husband did this afternoon: that it is all I can do to chase the puck endlessly, knowing full well that by the time I reach the place it's currently headed, it will have gone somewhere else!

While I have been playing the learning game as a professional for a long time, now, I still lack the ability to state with confidence where the game is going (to the extent that I chicken out of the round of "annual predictions for the year ahead posts"). All I have to hope is that, when the puck and I find ourselves in the same space at the same time, whether by good luck or good management, I prove to have some skill with it!

One thing I do know. When I finally stagger off the ice and into retirement, I will be wrung out and panting, but exhilarated. I will know I gave it my best shot and that it was one hell of a game!


Anonymous said...

Another Gretzky quote just for you...

The highest compliment that you can pay me is to say that I work hard every day, that I never dog it.

Anonymous said...

@janet Ooh, I LIKE that! Even those of us who are skating frantically after that puck can aspire to that: to have worked hard, to have given it our best effort. What more could anyone ask of us, at the end of the day?