Going Jordan



Michael Jordan sailing the ocean. Created with Stability AI and crafted to avoid legal snafus, hopefully.

You can also check out this piece and the Minket Puzzle on Substack

In the middle of the COVID pandemic, I joined millions in a collective trance, watching The Last Dance as the world reeled in disarray. This intricate, 10-part documentary wove a narrative of Michael Jordan’s final season with the Chicago Bulls, interspersed with multifaceted biographical insights.

As a sports enthusiast, I’ve long admired Jordan’s legendary prowess, extraordinary team dynamics, and relentless pursuit of victory. Jordan was not merely an athlete but a finely tuned, unstoppable machine powered by an iron will. Yet, his extraordinary success was not born in isolation; it was the product of a complex confluence of factors shaped by forces within and beyond his control.

I wonder: Had Michael Jordan been born in a different era, would he have wielded the same dominance, albeit in an arena with fewer societal safeguards? Perhaps in gladiatorial combat or at the helm of a seafaring vessel charting new territories?

Jordan’s uncanny ability to shape reality to his will resonated with my experiences. I, too, have faced the sting of skepticism and the bitterness of doubt, only to channel the pain into an unwavering resolve to prove naysayers wrong. Like him, I’ve risen above pressures, fueled by a comparable appetite for victory. While our arenas may differ, the thrill of success is a shared emotion.

In college, I grappled with the dreaded what-I-didn’t-know-itis, also known as ignorance. My high school success had lulled me into a false sense of security, and the new environment swiftly knocked me out with a punch to the liver. I still feel a less potent version of this sensation years later as I attend my ten-year college reunion this weekend.

But in hitting rock bottom, I found my springboard. It spurred me to carve my path and showcase my abilities to the world, but more critically, to myself. My odyssey through broadcast newsrooms, the South Pacific, medical school, and residency has been enlightening. Yet, despite the milestones, a sense of hollowness persisted, prompting a critical question:

Why am I doing all of this?

Jordan’s legendary competitiveness, partially an inheritance from his father and brothers, instilled in him a fierce drive to win, to sidestep the punishment of defeat. Yet, as glimpsed in the documentary and as I’ve realized in my journey, this relentless drive can have pitfalls. It can sometimes erect barriers to relationships, push individuals to their brink, and nurture habits that become detrimental beyond their initial usefulness. The same qualities that empower us can paradoxically leave us vulnerable.

I remember Michael Crichton’s account in his autobiographical book, Travels, when he finished the movie Westworld. Despite a formidable list of accomplishments up to that point, including graduating from Harvard College and Harvard Medical School, a post-doc fellowship at the Salk Institute, being a guest lecturer at Cambridge University, and penning best-sellers like The Andromeda Strain, he confessed to feeling an acute sense of emptiness.

He was miserable.

Crichton’s meteoric success, without a genuine ‘why,’ left him adrift in a sea of existential storms.

Reflection, therefore, becomes essential.

Why am I doing this thing?
Is this thing worth what I’m sacrificing for it?
Is there more to this thing?

And most importantly:

What have I learned in search of this thing?

These questions are not limited to the realm of NBA champions or best-selling authors; they resonate with anyone navigating life’s intricate maze.

The growth and insights gleaned from our tumultuous odysseys are invaluable treasures to cherish. When allowed to compound in our mental savings account, they yield rich dividends.

I remain on my voyage, searching for more intentional aims.

Hopefully, it’s a journey far from its conclusion.



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