Reaching New Heights
I like ball games, chiefly football (soccer), though I also have a basic understanding of basketball. I have mentioned before how one of my favourite characters in Takahashi Yoichi’s (高橋洋一) classic Captain Tsubasa, Wakashimazu Ken (若島津健), inspires me to get out of my comfort zone in his numerous attempts at saving all kinds of complex, hypersonic shots fired by many prominent attackers in the comic, one of whom is, of course, the main character, Ozora Tsubasa (太空翼), whose signature shot ‘Drive Shot’ (衝力射球) poses an almost insurmountable challenge for Wakashimazu in the National Junior Competition (and similarly in the International Junior Competition where Argentina’s Diaz uses the same technique on him). In another iconic comic franchise, Slam Dunk, one of my favourite characters is Mitsui Hisashi (三井壽), who is known for his long-distance three-pointers (as well as his bittersweet lifestory of being a former basketball superstar who has had to live through injury and a chequered past and his appearances are frequently accompanied by the beautiful theme song Sekai ga owaru madewa). He and another three-pointer shooter, Kainan’s (海南) Jin Soichiro (神宗一郎), are popular for their numerous long-distance shots which curve through the air above all the defenders and form a perfect arc straight into the middle of the ring. It is exhilarating to watch, but also technically very difficult, as admitted by the characters themselves who, natural talent notwithstanding, profess to having practised this hundreds of times. Yet they do not give up, nor do they flinch from the difficulty of making the perfect shot, one which arches through the air and heads beautifully into the ring. Many fans remember Mitsui’s heroic performance in the match against Shoyo (翔陽), one of the best teams in the county, where he is deadmarked by one of the opposite defenders, and even though he is suffering from fitness issues and is struggling for breath, he nonetheless shoots consecutive three-pointers which are instrumental to his team Shohoku’s (湘北) victory. I, however, root for his performance in the amazing match against Sannoh (山王), the best team in the country and consecutive national champions, where Mitsui begins the match scoring three consecutive three-pointers, and even as his physical condition dies within him, he still manages to grind his teeth and score many three-pointers which prove fatal to Sannoh’s otherwise perfect defence. Wakashimazu and Mitsui are both inspiring characters for me since, although they stand on different sides of goal (the former being a goalkeeper who is trying desperately to save difficult shots while the latter a shooter who is aiming for the ring at a distance), they both symbolise the human endeavour of aiming higher and reaching for new heights in the game, whether it be blocking hypersonic shots in the case of Wakashimazu or shooting them in the case of Mitsui. This is what I visualise myself doing whenever I am handling a difficult task, that is striving harder and reaching higher for whatever goal or standard is required of me, and the higher the bar the more it excites me to jump and try to reach it. I usually miss the target in my first attempts, but after a million times trying I can often get closer and closer to it until when I finally reach it. I then try to stabilise my bar mark and make sure that I hit it every single time, after which I may be able to even overcome and improve on this standard, like a slow and arduous process, but one which motivates me nonetheless. Maybe I should start watching long- and high-jumps from now on, whenever I get bored of football and basketball (!).