Tracy McGrady is a recently-retired basketball player who used his clout as a moderately famous dude to snag a Minor League Baseball pitching contract. Immediately following his first strikeout, he retired from baseball, because how are you supposed to follow up something so monumental as a strikeout?
Holy mother of miracles, whatever a balk is, he successfully didn’t do it!
McGrady just realized the ultimate Secret American Dream: doing something right once and then quitting while on top. It’s become trendy to crow on and on, Tony Robbins-style, about never giving up, always striving to make today better than yesterday, and to never, ever, stand still and be complacent. This certainly *sounds* great and inspiring, but it also sounds really fucking exhausting, and something that could easily cut into our Family Feud-watching time.
If Steve Harvey makes a wacky face, and no one sees it, does he still spew scripted snark?
McGrady, on the other hand, gets it. Instead of constantly straining to reach the next rung on the ladder, he simply makes it to Stage 1 and moves on to something else. Isn’t that beautiful? You’re goddamn right it is, and here’s why …
It’s Easy as Fuck, with No Risk of Burnout
Unless your goal is to walk in space, split an atom, or eat an obscenely hot pepper without running screaming into the ocean mouth-first, most things are easily accomplished once. Most people can successfully go to the gym and lift things up and put them down once, or run one race without dying from a particularly bad Charley Horse, or write one Top # Things article on the Internet that gets at least two shares from confused family members.
“I don’t know what a pokey man is, but if my grandson thinks being one would be weird, I’m sure he’s right. Because he’s such a nice boy.”
It’s when you do those things over and over again, and are forced to balance them with the distractions of everyday life, that they become difficult. General exhaustion, malaise, and burnout from what can quickly become a challenging routine are not exactly strangers to hardcore dream-chasers.
McGrady successfully avoided all that. He won’t ever deal with the toil of striving for strikeout after endless strikeout, because he wisely went one-and-done. He won’t ever have to worry about a strike controversially turning into a game-blowing walk, there will never be pressure on him to strike out the side, and he will never battle through arm fatigue or be forced to deal with Tommy John and that surgery of his that doesn’t seem to work because everybody who gets it disappears for a year.
Going Out on Top is AWESOME
Everybody loves an underdog, but do you know who they love even more? A cartoonishly dominant, ass-kicking favorite. Rocky Marciano retired undefeated, and is still seen as one of the greatest boxers ever. Ted Williams hit a home run in his final at-bat, and that’s part of the reason so many see him as the greatest hitter to foolishly only use his pharmacy to buy crap for head colds. These men went out on top and were revered for it.
But they look the long road to immortality — all they really needed to do was succeed once, and then leave before they could start failing. Marciano never lost, so why even fight the other 47 matches? And Williams? He hit a homer in his FIRST AT-BAT, making his subsequent 8000 or so turns at the plate totally irrelevant.
McGrady came, saw, conquered, and will never do so again. He doesn’t need to. He’s already got the rep of a winner. The only way he could’ve been more successful was if he realized this in 1997 and retired after his first successful basket.
Compared to 99% of the Population, You’re an Expert
There’s a 98% chance I pulled the 99% statistic out of my ass, but the fact remains that most people have a vision and never once attempt to live it. Maybe they want to write a novel, or learn an instrument, or cook a delicious meal, or become a vicious pirate. Do they even approach Step 1? Nope! They just sit there and daydream about it.
Man, I would plunder so much booty if some poor wench would just give me half a chance.
McGrady, meanwhile, went one step further : he chased his dream, realized it, and then walked away before it became a nightmare. He wrote an introductory paragraph, cooked one basic meal, played one three-chord song, and raided one small defenseless villiage. But since that’s one more than most people get around to, he and others like him get to look like goddamned experts in their almost-field. If he learns to talk like an expert too, he could charge for a pitching seminar, and people would likely sign up. Hey, he struck out more guys than you did, so clearly he knows his shit.
Welcome to Cooking 101, with Professor Dude Who Made Pasta with Butter That One Time.
I don’t normally give out life advice, so when I do, you now it has to be good. Be like Tracy McGrady, the One-K Wonder. Follow that yellow brick road, but only long enough to get the general idea of how Oz works. No need to keep skipping until the talking scarecrows and freaky anthropomorphic lions show up to cause trouble and unnecessary drug trips.