There are moments on the basketball court when everything is very still. And my mind is blank, save the movements before me — the ball slicing through air, the bodies next to me, the angle of an open teammate’s hands in my direction. And I become the breath passing through me, and I can feel the gym floor through the bottom of my sneakers. Extraneous sounds fall away, and what I hear distinctly is only that thump of rubber on wooden floorboards, the call of my teammates, the reverb of the backboard, and the hiss of net.
It is like swimming — it is like I am swimming again as a small child. In this environment, it all feels natural and correct. And I can sense the world tight and close around me, like water — where I know exactly what to do and where I have to go. It is just like that.
Then there are moments on the court when I can not locate an individual thought in my head. And everything — the murmuring crowd, the directive-shouting coaches, the clacking of the scoreboard, the calls of teammates and opponents, the thudding floorboards — are loud, blurring together, deafening in my ears and reverb-ing against the inner walls of my skull. And my breath is a shallow memory of oxygen, unable to inflate the filaments and cavities of the lungs I know were there at some point.
And I become a creature who has forgotten how to behave, to exist, to survive. It is an alien sensation that has — somehow — become all too familiar. I have lost the knowledge of how to swim in this world. And I thrash furiously through the foreign and frightening sights and sounds, rush through movements that were once instinctual. I am gasping and voiceless — frantically searching for the shore.