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One Thing

I was wrong about the Sens.  They don’t only interest me because of SenSay.  They interest me also because they seem to be chronic under-achievers, apparently even more than the Sharks, and that interests me.

I remember something about getting lost in Moscow.  One of the reasons I didn’t panic was that I had a mission, a single purpose, a destination.  Even though I never reached that destination, having the “one thing” going for me made a huge difference.  I wasn’t aware of it at the time.  Only when someone said later that it sounded terrifying to be lost in such a big city without a map or a clue did I wonder “why didn’t I freak out?”

For those who do not know why someone might freak out over being lost in Moscow, you’re right.  But do a little research before going and you may be convinced that it is a scary thing.  According to the US media, Russia is rife with crime, the police will take your passport and demand bribes, mobsters are everywhere.  Tour books will tell you to strap your valuables into your underwear and watch out for cars that will run you over even in a cross walk.  My Russian host could not stop reminding me that robbers were everywhere.

I found all of that to be hogwash.  I eventually clarified the difference between “robbers” and “pick pockets” for my host.  The distinction is important.  But at this point I did not know any of this, and still I did not care.  I had a game to get to.

I was pretty cavalier about who I would ask for directions.  Here at home I am almost phobic about walking up to strangers and talking to them.  But with the “one thing” going for me I was quite bold.  I even approached a man who I am pretty sure was standing outside a house of some sort of ill repute.

He did not want me to approach him.  He was the only person in sight, and he saw me coming.  He was very large.  He was wearing a dark suit and had a briefcase sitting by his feet.  He looked out of place, his was the first suit I had seen in this neighborhood.  As I got closer, a couple of scantily clad women popped out the door and scampered up some stairs to disappear through another door.  I did not have an opportunity to talk to them.

The man looked very nervous as I approached him, turned away slightly, tried to avoid eye contact.  As I took all of this in, I thought “but he is very large, I am just a frazzled-looking middle aged female, he will not be afraid of me.”

As a rule, I did not approach lone individuals unless they were wearing a uniform.  People feel more at ease when they are in pairs or groups, and approaching a group is less threatening than approaching a lone individual.  I do not think I’m an imposing figure, but you cannot be too considerate when you are going around bugging people. But again, this was the only person in sight, and he was imposing.

I asked if he spoke English, in English of course.  I get that it is more polite to try and use the local tongue but really, that only leads them to believe that I have some rudimentary understanding of their language.  So I would get about as far as “please,” or “excuse me” before I gave up on that.

He shook his head no and tried to turn away again.  I had the distinct impression that he did not want to be seen at all, let alone bothered by me.  “No English?” I thought.  No matter.  I held out my game ticket and asked “where?”  He hesitated, then took the ticket and tried to focus on it, handed it back and shook his head.

I paused, not sure where to go next.  I could tell he wanted me to just go away.  He waved his hand at me like he was shooing away a stray dog.  Before I could shoo, two men came trotting over from a vehicle, smiling and asking if they could help me.  It was pretty clear they were there to help him, not me, but they were very cheerful and one spoke pretty good English.  He gave me directions.

That is how I ended up at the soccer stadium.

The “one thing” mindset does not always get you the one thing when you expect it.  Yet it does filter out the noise.  You become the mission, the task, the hunt.  You are not someone who may or may not be able to do this, not someone who did or didn’t do this right the last time, not a bundle of nerves anticipating all the possible outcomes of every scenario you ever imagined in the wee hours of the night.  “You” disappear into the act.

That is all Laviolette was saying when he said “we just need one goal” way back in that game against the Bruins.   “One thing” can be a goal without a plan.  Maybe some new kid gets it done.  Or maybe you have to make a quick detour to Siberia.  Sometimes, one goal is all you need.

We make a lot of the importance of being able to multitask.   It is a useful skill, and the chaos of daily life makes it necessary.  That same chaos makes it difficult to put all of your energy into one thing.  Yet, if you can get out of yourself, and into that mental place that is “one thing,” the noise is silenced.

We cannot sustain this level of focus for very long.  “Everything else” really does exist and it will demand attention again.  It is possible to function perpetually in multitasking mode.  Ask any mother.  But the more you are doing, the less you can do well.  Men are said to be less well-suited to multitasking than women.  Something to do with “hunter versus gatherer.”  It has been a while since our species divvied up duties that way, I think we have evolved beyond it.   But that only means we are both capable of both mindsets.

I call it “muddle jumping for Sharks.”   For the Sens it could have another name, like “Next Level Sentience.”  Whatever you call it, it’s all One Thing.


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