One distant relation told me that you’re getting old if the obituaries are filled with your friends or names of the familiar. Once his preferred page was the Sports section of a broadsheet, where victories are bannered, now he peeps first at the Obit, where defeats are confirmed (the Christians invented the afterlife), and feign surprise on the passing of one familiar name. He said the feeling was no different when he queued 50 years ago at his first vaccination shot. The tremor, the unknown pain, and the shame mortified him. And finally, it was his turn to get the neddle.
In one lazy weekend afternoon, at Greenbelt, I met Jimmy Noblezada. He was one of my hardcourt idols. In his prime at Utex, he was known as the Iron Man. At one time he was christened “Ang Taong Bato” as well. Nowadays, he said he is called “scrap” or discarded metal ready to be picked up by the “magbabakal”.
But Jimmy learned his lessons, he said. With not a hint of regret in his eyes, he said that in the big game of life, at 58 he has, give or take, the last “seconds” of 22 years of his life. That is, if he expects to reach age 80.
I didn’t know that he’s some kind of a Forrest Gump in the sense that his brief life on the hardcourt flexed his life’s entire philosophy.
Jimmy went in and out of the big games, he said. The last quarter to him was the crucial phase. In parallel, the last “quarter” of his life matters the most. At his peak he said he earned a mountain of money.Maybe God didn’t make him a rich man all his life or he won’t have the company of his love ones. The latter is the better bargain.
But, learning his lessons from his best coach, Tommy Manotoc, despite being ahead of points, he called a timeout.
The break in the game is a pause to remind the team not to get too overconfident. Time-outs are not only called when you’re trailing in points. He believes that one must call a recess to collect oneself, even in the best of times. The lull is a reminder to go easy on hubris. Even the great cyclone has its breathing space. The eye of the storm is big enough for the birds to frolic.
Wasn’t it Bill Gates who said, “Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose.”
Being ahead does not make one a superman or in his case, an Iron Man. It is an indication of hard work and dedicated practice. Complacency has to be spirited out of the game when you’re ahead in points. When you have everything so far, you need a time out.
A time out to implore or look inward and to get stock of your self and your team mates.
Team Work. Jimmy regards his family as his team right now. A family, his basic team, needs solid community of purpose. If at the basic level you’re a loser, don’t expect bigger and major victories in the outfield.
Jimmy glanced at his watch and said his adieu in the meantime. He said he’s fetching his daughter. He stood up on his entire length, this time with a little off mark from the original cantilevered six-foot-two. Now he sports a crewcut sprinkled with silver. He turned his back towards De La Rosa disclosing still the vaunted shoulders of Hercules that never grew tired of carrying his lessons.