Heat grips Melbourne. The Icehouse is refreshingly cold. I score a goal, crashing the slot, just like Coach Dave asked me to. The clock ticks past midnight on a Wednesday and our happy dev league crew is skating, happy, competing, living in our hockey world.
Real world issues recede. Meetings with lawyers, demons, clients, expectations, publishers, reality fall away in the first moments of a Thursday morning, as you chase a puck. Think of nothing but chasing a puck.
On Sunday, in the late afternoon, I came gasping desperately to the surface of Port Phillip Bay after a dive gone wrong (I haven’t told my mother about this yet). Mortality confronting me in the cold water and a suspected rogue upward current. It’s not often that we are truly frightened, lose our shit, fight to control panic on an uncontrolled ascent, and find ourselves breathing pure oxygen from an emergency supply on the dive boat in lurching waves, wondering if, instead of Wednesday hockey, a long stint in a recompression tank at Alfred Hospital awaits.
Happily, it didn’t. Instead, I cautiously played defence in the first game on Wednesday night, just to let the game come to me and see how my body felt. Felt fine. Second game, back to forward and skating hard. Relief and joy in my legs moving, my lungs working. Strange that, almost two years in, hockey can feel like a comfort zone.
And this Sunday, late afternoon, I can feel less fear in the prospect of trucking out to Oakleigh, tackling a team called the Nite Owls.
But now it’s Thursday. Reality is everywhere. Life swirls. Friends rise. Others close doors. I wave goodbye. It’s hot and windy outside. Feels turbulent. Unsettled. Life in the wings of fate and maybe the Mayans.
What are you going to do? Shrug, think about being where the puck will be, not where the puck is. Or was. Dive into your life and love those who love you. Find meaning in the way roads have twisted, or at least work to accept the journey.
And if all else fails, smile at the monkeys, doing excellent cannonball bombs. And head to the Fitzroy Back Beach or, whoa, watch an unexpected thunderstorm roll in, and let the thunder vibrate through your body, still breathing, still here, heart beating; not in ways you thought it might, but still beating.
You close your eyes and have the sudden memory of seeing lightning from a high point, under a towel, drinking beers and feeling unexpected worlds open up. Feel your pulse. Think about a new team waiting on Sunday. And you go with that. And you let life happen.