Pressure, some genius coach or manager once said, comes from within.
So brilliant was this proclamation, that every other coach and manager alive picked up on it, unimaginative athletes followed and a cliché was born.
Clearly, none of the geniuses had the kind of day I had Sunday.
This is pressure, my friends.
Pressure is navigating O’Hare with your 13-year-old daughter, who you are about to release into the jaws of air travel, a world now so sinister that signs warning of flying with Swine Flu assault the senses and a simple clearing of your throat is grounds for arrest. When you no longer travel often, as I once did, you forget all the savvy traveler shortcuts.
For example, avoid waiting for 15 minutes in a line marked INTERNATIONAL, when you’re holding a ticket to Phoenix.
When your on-line boarding pass isn’t scanning properly in the e-ticket kiosk, repeatedly jamming it in there isn’t your best option, especially when perfect strangers are shouting instructions to you like, “PUT IN YOUR CONFIRMATION NUMBER,” and then muttering bad words to themselves.
And when your child calmly leads you to her gate, puts herself on-board and sends you on your way, you should heed her commands.
In my defense, I was jittery not so much because Amanda was on her way to visit relatives in Arizona by herself, but because I was on my way to speak to a women’s group by myself.
No one can really help you when you’re a public speaker. It’s you, the microphone and in my case, dead air when, in the middle of a really rousing story, you start thinking about your little girl sitting in a Swine-infested airplane, lose your train of thought and require an audience member to remind you where you were.
OK, so maybe you’re saying this is self-imposed pressure. And you might be right. When speaking to a large group, unless it is as a warden at a state penitentiary, the audience is generally rooting for you to succeed. No one boos when a joke falls flat. And only occasionally will someone sitting right up front doze off. It’s usually always the ones in back.
And besides, this was nothing compared to what awaited at my next stop of the day, my 11-year-old son’s playoff baseball game.
So here’s the question? Were we as parents adding to the incredible, almost unbearable pressure of the moment by wildly cheering each ball and strike as the lead changed hands in the sixth inning? Or were we as parents the only ones aware of the incredible, almost unbearable pressure?
Was it really necessary for the other’s team’s coaches to call timeout after every other pitch to change pitchers, catchers and hold impromptu infield meetings on the mound? And do we all need to be institutionalized after many among us on the sidelines had to stop watching altogether when the game went into extra innings?
Of course, because it was the kind of day it was, this was not my family’s biggest concern. Rather, as the game neared it dramatic conclusion and – THANK THE GOOD LORD ABOVE — a victory for our team – MY GOD, A DELICIOUS VICTORY — my husband Rick and I were equally concerned that we make the start of Alec’s piano recital.
You want pressure? How about possessing the nerves necessary to make that split-second decision of whether to go straight to the recital with your son dirty and smelly, or make the detour home to bathe and thus risk being late and having to bang through the door during some other child’s performance?
We didn’t bang through the door that loudly.
And Alec made it all the way through “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” without the help of anyone in the audience.
Now that’s pressure.Read Melissa on ESPNChicago.com.