“What I wouldn’t give to have all that free time!”
This is usually the response I get when I tell people one of the hardest things about playing basketball in Europe: too much free time.
Hey, I get it, it sounds like an oxymoron, too much free time? Really though, coupled with being an entire ocean away from my family and closest friends it can get real boring.
“Love and Basketball” has led many to believe that playing basketball over here is all about traveling, giving autographs, and hoisting trophies. Let’s get a few things straight. Yes Paris, Copenhagen, Berlin, Munich, and Amsterdam are all under a 10-hour train ride away but I still don’t have the time to make these trips often. See, while professional basketball here is not a 9-5 job, it is an everyday obligation. Every year I do get at least one weekend off though, sometimes two, in which I can quench my traveling thirst. And, of course, that’s more than many people, with what I like to call a “real job,” can say.
Those free weekends have added up, too, I’ve been able to visit all of those cities over the past five years. But let’s remember, I have to fill up about 30 other weekends not to mention the weekly free time as well. My life is more like picking up new hobbies (collage making and lesson planning) and breaking out old hobbies (puzzling and reading). These exciting diversions are what my day in between basketball, coaching, and working out usually consists of. I know to someone who works 40 hours a week, has 2.5 kids, and a PTA obligation it seems like heaven. But add a 10 hour plane ride from loved ones, limit your amount of friends, and consider about eight months straight of that free time, is it still as enticing?
I’m not complaining, I just really wish I could save up some of this free time for when I’m begging for it 15 years from now on my way from the aforementioned “real job” to the PTA meeting carrying my 2.5 kids. No, I am incredibly lucky. Without this free time I might not have been able to keep my blog going, read some really great books, or learn German. Every year here I’ve had the opportunity to coach a youth basketball team and been able to teach some English, too.
On top of staying on a workout schedule I’m also learning to sit still. I’ve never been someone who could watch TV for hours on end but I’m learning to enjoy doing nothing. Only briefly, though, I’ll never be stagnant. Actually, this year I’ve somehow been less bored then all other years: I think I’m learning to redefine boredom, to sit back and relax sometimes. Hey, it’s only taken me five years!
This free time has also given me the chance to put a trial run on some new interests while not having to make a long term commitment. I can coach for eight months and teach once a week knowing that at the end of the season I don’t have to do that ever again if I don’t want to. And while I’m on this real life diversion I hope to find out where I’m headed next.