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Is it really time for March Madness? The NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament begins next Tuesday so basketball is on everyone's mind, even mine.

six little boys playing basketball

Remember the little black books I wrote about a few weeks ago? I pulled out these two pictures from 1991.

These little athletes are playing in New York City’s Junior Basketball League.

Then look at this shot, the starting lineup of Duke University’s basketball team. The caption says “Duke’s starting five, Carlos Boozer, Mike Dunleavy, Jason Williams, Chris Duhon and Dahntay Jones, can be an imposing group.”

Arthur tells me all five went on to careers in the N.B.A.

five big boys playing basketball for Duke

They could be the little guys all grown up, although they’re not; the two pictures were taken around the same time.

Looking at these two photos together makes me think of the Sugarplum Fairy.

Stay with me here.

In the second act of Balanchine’s Nutcracker, the Sugarplum Fairy dances surrounded by her court of young dancers, students of the American School of Ballet.She's the epitome of effortless grace and beauty.

ballerina, sugarplum fairy, angels

It’s my favorite moment in the ballet. They look up at her and see the embodiment of their dreams.

Here they are rehearsing together.

ballet rehearsal

"Stand up straight, hold in your tummy, do this with your hands."

Ballet is the art of making enormous hard work appear effortless.It's all about the dream; the seed and the flower. Where does it begin and what's required of us to make a dream come true?

I saw Mets shortstop Jose Reyes make a diving catch--fully stretched out, flat on his belly on the grass and the next second he was on his feet; he pivoted and threw to first for a double play. How many crunches and burpees did it take to achieve that easy grace?

Here’s a story from our family legend. Arthur and my dad were talking—Dad was going on and on about a friend he greatly admired, “He’s just a wonderful person—a perfect person...Well, I can’t say that because we know there was only one perfect man.”

Dad of course meant Jesus, but Arthur said, “I Assume you mean Pete Maravitch.”

[that's Pete Maravich of the scraggly hair and floppy socks, all time NCAA division I scorer, played for three NBA teams until injuries ended his career.]

I've read that Maravitch as a kid took his basketball wherever he went-even to the movies. He’d sit in an aisle seat and dribble all through the show. That may be an apocryphal story, but it rings true; Pistol Pete strove for perfection. He dreamed of playing in the NBA and he knew what it took to get there.

It’s not only with athletes; Mary Oliver said, “Lord knows when I started writing poetry it was rotten… but I kept at it. With my pencil I’ve travelled to the moon and back several times."

Pablo Casals, in his nineties, was asked why he still practiced at his cello for hours every day. He replied, “I think I’m getting somewhere.”

Any gift—a talent, a garden, a baby, THE EARTH, takes work to bring it to flower. We all know how to get to Carnegie Hall.

Pen & Ink of a house

March 22, 2019

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