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9:23 p.m. 2010-03-22

Night Badminton

A good thing you (and everybody else) should do from time to time (if not all the time) is to really challenge yourself. More specifically, you should challenge yourself not by doing something you already do at a higher level, not by finding bigger versions of familiar difficulties or doing what you already do at 93% at 97%. Not that these arenít laudable things to do. You should do them to. They are also good things, valuable things, probably things that will make the world a better place much more than what Iím about to talk about. In the future, Iím sure I will talk about doing those things. Just not now.

What you should do is order glow in the dark shuttlecocks and play badminton at night. Everybody should. I did this weekend. It is a different level of hard! A racket sport where you canít see the racket or your feet, or really anything, just this streaking turbo lightning bug that you hit by putting your hand 18 inches away from. It is a challenge because there are so many things that you have no idea you take for granted when you hit a shuttlecock that are suddenly not there, and actually not necessary. You donít need to know where your feet are, but you have no idea how important that information is to you when you hit the birdie normally. You donít need to see where the other person is standing, or exactly where the out of bounds lines are. You can get by without seeing yourself accomplish the task at hand, because you can see the task getting accomplished with you operating as an invisible hand.

You get neon streaks in the dark night air. I was expecting the shuttlecock to be attacked by bats at any time. I was half expecting to run into a tree at anytime. But those crazy things didnít happen. I knew where the trees were even without seeing them, I had done this before in the day time. And the world knew better than to attack the glowing ball that had suddenly appeared from out of nowhere.

And it was fun! It wasÖ like being drunk, because my brain was operating with sensory input it just wasnít used to, like the world had just started to spin and my balance was off. It was like being at a test that I had pulled an all nighter for, I was so intensely focused on the task at hand, tracking and hitting the birdie. It was like watching what you love succeed, joy at hitting the bird in the dark and seeing it streak away. To the brothers and others, it is like reality ball, seeing the throw arc through the air to finally land. It happened! Joy!

I donít know if this is something to become good at. It is a task lived in the experience, not in the perfection of execution. I donít know what I can compare that to. Maybe it is something to strive for perfection in after all, night badminton. I donít know if Iíll ever get there. But doing it well or poorly, it is so much fun to do at all.

It is good for your brain to do what it does well. It is also good to make it do different things from time to time.

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