Caks' Law 101
I crossed paths with a man named Cahal.
He's blessed with this unbelievable God-given talent to play Gaelic football.
The only problem is that no-one has ever witnessed it.
It's not his fault.
It's never Caks' fault. There's always something. Someone. Anything.
For Caks to achieve his potential, he needs time but he doesn't have any. He's not so stupid that he knows a number of important things have to be shipshape to excel at the top of the sport.
He knows that you have to be fit, and as strong as possible, and as fast and as sharp as you can help it, and he knows better than anyone that you have to practice with the ball and practice some more. He lives in the real world though and, in the real world - or this world - it's not possible to focus on improving all those things at once.
The most frustrating thing for Caks is that he has the capability - the storage - to possess all these tools. Oh, he can do it alright. He just doesn't... have the time.
But Caks isn't one of these guys who wasted his talent. He's not someone who showed he was better than everyone but just wasn't all that bothered about football. He wasn't a county underage sensation, touted to be the best in the country but became just a good club player in the end. Nor is he someone who encountered rotten luck along the way - think of the legend from your neighbourhood who was going to make it until the knee let him down.
Caks is just a victim of everyday circumstance. The season-by-season merry-go-round has been spinning for 10 years and you can't just make it stop. If he jumps off it, well then he's off it and he might never get back on it. If he stays on, he can't do anything but make sure he stays on it.
So with the world coming to a halt amidst a pandemic, I thought of Cahal and the things he always promised he'd do if only he ever got another chance. I got genuinely excited for him, the freedom, the time, the opportunity and I thought, good God he might actually now go and be the footballer - the man - he always knew he could be.
I asked about him and it turns out his buddy had the same thought. And he immediately rang Cahal to see if he was making the most of the pause:
- "Caks, how the hell's the training going?"
- "What? But I thought- But we have all this time."
- "So how am I supposed to know when to peak for?"
- "You don't have to. Just keep getting fitter and stronger."
- "How can I do that?"
- "Whatever way you like, Caks. That's the beauty of it!"
- "The gyms are closed. I'd be flat out in the gym if I could."
- "Well, you can run. Right?"
- "Yeah for 2km. Big deal. There's nowhere good around here to run anyway. I'd love to go to a track and destroy myself but, nope, not allowed to go anywhere further than 2km."
- "Yeah, nothing I can do."
- "What about kicking around. Do you want to go for some shooting."
- "I don't have any O'Neill's balls. No point. I wish I could."
- "I have som- Caks? Caks... You still there?"
When you want to do better but you can't, because you can but you won't.
It's Caks' Law.
He wants to do better - he genuinely really wants to - but he doesn't want to do any of the work that will make him better. And he sure as hell doesn't want to be held responsible for not getting any better either.
It's not his fault. But it is.
You've probably experienced Caks' Law every day in your life but you should still know what you're looking out for.
He only trains three times a week but you have to trust that Caks has thought about it more than you because he knows better than anyone just how good he is.
He simply can't train more than he does - even if he wanted to.
Yes, he'd like to get stronger but if he spends his time in the gym between team sessions, he's going to be going back to training with some serious DOMS and he needs to be performing at training because even though he's better than everyone else, he's not better than everyone else.
If he wastes his time doing longer runs to improve his engine, he's risking losing weight, risking his beach muscles looking less sculpted and it's not going to make him better at kicking a ball anyway, is it?
But this is the thing. He can't exactly just go down to the pitch every other day with a bag of balls. Why? Because there's no point in being good at kicking the ball if he isn't fit or strong enough to get the ball and keep it.
Caks in his prime
It's a form of Golden Generation Syndrome. Caks doesn't compare himself to people around him. He compares his made-up version of himself to people around him.
It means his reference points aren't always up to date, instead he relies on past, often embellished reference points of the very best memories he's carved of himself.
Caks looks to his prime - whenever it was - to make his point. His point is always self-preservation.
Friend: "Jesus, have you seen Mark recently? He's massive. Really putting it in in the gym."
Caks: "Yeah, but is he bigger than me at my biggest?"
No-one is bigger than Caks was at his biggest. They can lift heavier now, sure, but Caks knows he could lift more if he put the effort in - if he had the time to put the effort in. And that's all that matters.
They're fitter that him too, of course they are. They're doing the work. But if Caks was doing the work, he'd be fitter than them. It's just a case of doing it. But he can't.
Caks' Law in the workplace
Offices are riddled. Nearly more so than your common sports team.
Some people don't get ahead for genuinely unfair reasons. Some people have bad luck. Some people, bad timing. Caks? He doesn't get ahead because his bosses are stopping him from being class.
For Caks, his bosses don't want him to do a really good job. He doesn't have a reason for that logic, but he knows. They're stifling his brilliance and he has that much shit to do in the everyday nitty-gritty that even if he wasn't being actively prevented from doing a really good job, he wouldn't have the time to do it as well as he could.
He could just do it. He could make the time. He could put in the bit extra. He could show people what he's really all about. But it's the system. It's not Caks. So he accepts it because, this way, he doesn't have to blame himself if it turns out he's not as good as he knows he is.
Caks' Law states this man has all the resources to turn the situation into a favourable one for him. But he doesn't do it. A lot of us are afraid of being woken from a dream.
In poker, they say if you can't spot the sucker at the table, then it's you.
Likewise, if you can't spot the Caks in your life, it might just be you. Not that Caks would ever admit to it.