Virtual Roadblock

“I say a prayer for the motivation / Keep me solid so I stay on track”

The start of a new year is nothing but the start of a new day. Often tired, sometimes energetic. But other than that, very little has changed. New year, same nonsense. But this year it seems like the new year has been a virtual barrier after all, at least for me. A road barrier, through which you have made your way through with difficulty between the blocking cars and spike strips, without causing damage, while your attacking pursuers have been held up.  As a result, you start the year with a head start.

To be honest, I never start the year with new year resolutions, because I don’t believe that one fairly arbitrary determined night, the night when the year changes, can change your life. No, I believe more in habits, in goals, in dreams, in motivation. And these things don’t come overnight.

Yet that one night made a difference. As if something has actually changed this time. The days before I already felt it coming on lightly, a change in feeling, in thoughts, in motivation. Like a kind of run-up that had to be taken, an increase in speed to get through the roadblock as successfully as possible. As if it were actually possible to get away from everything by speeding up a bit, but still within the speed limits, to avoid going out of control and crashing, which will only make the problems worse.

“I hear the sirens of redemption / Screaming out like never before / And there’s a roadblock in every direction / But I ain’t stoppin’ ‘cause I’m in control”

After passing the roadblocks it suddenly felt different. Suddenly the rearview mirror was a lot emptier, without you actually being able to see what happened behind you. The road was suddenly a lot emptier, and there was room for other things. Where my thoughts and energy used to be swallowed up by all sorts of useless things, disk space was suddenly free again. To read more, to write more, but above all to feel better. Feeling better. Last fall, that was something I could only do when I was on the volleyball court.

On Friday evening the 13th of January I was allowed to play again, after a short winter break, the first match of the year. I was allowed to participate in Heren 3, in the second division, the level I had never played until a few months before, when I registered at the association as a fourth division player. Two levels higher than I could actually handle. But in the last set it went great, when I scored quite a few points attacking and blocking. Points overshadowed only by a teammate’s 12-point service streak, turning our 2-6 deficit into a 14-6 lead, which laid the foundations for a 25-8 win in the final set, and a 3-1 victory as the final result of the match. But I realized that this beautiful evening wasn’t my first win of 2023.

The first two weeks of 2023 have been good (and a third week has been added at the time of publishing), and some days have even been very good. Somehow it seems indeed that the turn of the year contained an invisible barricade. A barricade that has blocked much of the negativity from 2022 and the years before, refusing to grant its access into 2023. I read every day, I write every day, and it takes less energy to keep in touch with friends.

On the Saturday morning after the game, I caught myself singing the song ‘Power Over Me’ by Dermot Kennedy, but without realizing it my mind had changed the lyrics. Instead of ‘You got that power over me’ I sang ‘I got that power over me’. When I became aware of my mistake after a short delay, my mouth smiled. A telling smile, which perhaps fits perfectly with the wrong lyrics I sang. A changed lyric, but a nice change in my opinion. Because, as I wrote in my open letter of 2022, I have the power over myself to make certain choices or not. As I continued to study the lyrics, I thought that some parts are much more beautiful, and also much more suitable to me, if you yourself are both the I-person and the you-person in the story: ‘Wanna be king in your story / I wanna know who you are / I want your heart to be for me’.

Being kings and queens of our own life story, knowing who you are and knowing yourself, and giving your heart completely to yourself.

Whether my attacking pursuers will soon get through the roadblock, I don’t know. Maybe they’ll be immediately behind me soon, maybe it’ll be a while before I see them in my rearview mirror again, maybe I’ll never see them again. I don’t know. But what I do know is that in that case I’m able to choose how I deal with it. And that these first two, and now even three, weeks of 2023 have been good, and that will not be taken away from me.

I have yet to add the first song of the year to my All Time List, and at this point Black Cadillac by Shinedown seems a fitting choice. Every time I thought I recognized myself in that song, the recognition was destroyed. But since I think it’s a cool song, and my All Time List is also a kind of musical diary, it might be good to add it. As a reminder of these good weeks, and as motivation for the future. Both for when my rearview mirror is filled again, and for when it remains empty. And maybe I should look through the windshield more anyway, looking at everything that’s still ahead of me.

“I got a mind full of inspiration / And I ain’t livin’ in the past no more”


How did your year start? Let me know in a comment!


All quotes in bold in the text are from Shinedown – Black Cadillac (Threat to Survival, 2015).


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