There is all of that, of course. And yet, to quote Cusack once more: “If you could live again you would hurl more, because that is living.” There’s a beauty to it, a joy, a luck in being fortunate enough in your position in the world that you have the time and space, the physical capacity and the opportunity to spend part of your life playing such a wonderful game, playing sport. Each time you pick up a hurl or a football - or hop on a bike, or go for a run - you do something more than just exist – you live. And that’s why we harp on about the demands on players and player identity. Because we should never lose sight of that essence of our games, of sport. Lyng sums it up quite beautifully:“If you are purely focussed on winning and you don’t stop on the way in some shape or form to hear the wind and to feel the power of the natural forces that are around you as part of the game…the wind, or the crowd, or the feel of the grass, whatever it is… there’s a whole process that’s part of the journey along the way and even though that’s being talked about a huge amount now – ‘process is everything, process is everything’ – if you’re really focussed to an extreme degree, I think that the thing that we lose out on is the journey towards it. That’s where most of the gold is…and that’s where I learnt to accept it more for what it was and be less emphatic about having to win.”The basic and pure capacity to experience sport is available to all of us – the rush of scoring a point, making a block or beating a friend with a winning putt on the eighteenth green – but there is one aspect of its magic that most can only ever love through observation. It is Lionel Messi seeming to slow down time itself as he slaloms past three defenders and coolly slides the ball past a goalkeeper; it is Colm Cooper taking two steps back and playing a pass no-one else could see; it is Diarmuid Lyng scoring a sideline cut from near half-way. What it feels like to produce such an exquisite moment is the experience of a chosen few in sport, just as it is in all walks of life. Perhaps it is unfair to ask such individuals to put their actions into words – but in the presence of Lyng, it’s hard to resist the urge to delve deeper:“I suppose it (the experience) is achievable in so many places…I would have been preoccupied with it in sport – like, this is this opportunity - or music or theatre or dance. But I don’t know is it there in walking, I don’t know is it there in sitting, I don’t know is it there in washing up. I don’t know are these moments there…this is what, I guess, mindfulness and meditation and these things tell us – it is always available, this heightened state. In a game, you’re in some kind of battle and all of your senses are heightened at that moment in time to some kind of maximum. And when you look at, I guess, mountain climbers - who talk about coming down through mountains and not putting a single foot wrong - their body is in complete control for that four hours because anything else and they will die.
Wouldn’t it be a lovely question to be asking young people: ‘Did you have any moment where it all made sense?“I suppose I was as surprised as anybody to fall into that moment and then fall back out of it. There’s something I’d like to ask somebody after a game. ‘Did you have any moment where you fell into flow with the game, a moment where…everything that was happening and everything that could happen was just all within your grasp for a brief moment? Did you have that experience?’ As opposed to just: ‘Did you win?’ Or: ‘Did you score?’ Wouldn’t it be a lovely question to be asking young people? ‘Did you have any moment where it all made sense?’"So… to have ever felt those things, I can only talk about them through my experience of them. I have cultivated those situations in an observer kind of way in different areas of my life at different times, doing yoga or meditation or whatever... a moment of clarity. And that’s kind of what it feels like, just a real moment of clarity where your mind isn’t in the way and you’re just doing everything that needs to be done. Quite disturbing in a way, to feel like your mind isn’t in control, because it always wants to be in control. But then it is glorious when you think about what it is, and what that experience is.“I feel gratitude that it ever happened, and you just hope that it happens to anybody else at any stage of their life - that they find a thing where that state of being can come in and just highlight a moment that they will never forget…that it would be impossible to forget.”