Today at basketball I took a full-speed pass off the face from about five feet away. A few minutes later I went horizontal while trying to block a shot and landed awkwardly on my wrist and hip (it’s hard to explain how this happened, so I won’t try). I was also clawed and elbowed multiple times and nearly had my head taken off by another errant point blank pass.
And it was all great.
After the awkward landing, I hopped up and did a little wrist twirl to make sure everything was still intact (it was, though painfully so) and immediately felt happy. Had a little extra skip in the step on the way back down the court. And I know what brought the happiness in spite the already beginning bruising.
It all has to do with the “doryoku”.
I read an article about a week ago in Sports Illustrated about Daisuke Matsuzaka which first introduced me to this term. Basically “doryoku” is a Japanese term meaning unrelenting effort, or maximum effort, or something to that effect and seems to be a concept taken very seriously in Japanese culture, including spilling into sports life. (Sadaharu Oh, 868 career home runs, used to sign his name with the word instead of his name). From what I can gather, a related term, “Gambaru”, seems to be the verb of this concept. I.e., the act of putting out maximum effort. Here’s a bit of additional reading if you’re interested.
Anyway, I like the term and my point is that I think I’m happiest when I’m putting forth unrelenting effort, usually in sport. It’s fun to get smacked around and elbowed and land funny as long as you’re hustling and competing while doing it. The best days are those days when it feels like you’re body really couldn’t have handled much more.