Wednesday, August 20, 2014

please don't take my habits

Mexico and Venezuela were competing on TV yesterday for what seemed to be the world series of Little League baseball. My eyes and ears idly took in the scenery -- kids who seemed to be 10 or 12 dressed in uniforms that might feed an African village for a couple of days ... very spiffy and athletic and it always makes me wonder at what precise point that gimlet-athletic stare enters the player's eye ... the one that says "I'm gonna kill you!"

No matter. I was watching and listening idly. These were serious kids and serious is interesting. Mexico was leading by a couple of runs, but the Venezuelan pitcher looked determined: He struck out one batter and prepared to meet the next, whose statistics stuck in my mind: "five feet, six and weighing 170 pounds."

 My mind came to a full stop. Five feet six and weighing 170 pounds??!!

From my advancing-age perspective of someone coerced into keeping a daily track of his weight (concerns with the heart), it was weird: Here was a kid who was shorter and considerably younger than I was who weighed more than I did at six feet and 155-plus pounds. Had the world's axis reversed course? How could this pipsqueak whose killing days had barely begun weigh more than I did and yet be shorter by several inches? It was a jolt. A reality check I wasn't entirely ready to digest. No one else might care, but I was, for the moment, caught flat-footed.

The world moves 'forward' until such times, it seems, that it begins to move back.

The recognition was not a time to pull out the old-age violins ... but ... but ... but one of my habitual views of myself had received a bitch-slap: I was not taller, heavier, stronger and more of a killer: I had been outflanked by a 12-year-old who couldn't give a shit one way or the other. Life moves on ... what's the big deal?

The big deal, of course, was my long-standing habit: I saw myself as stronger when in fact I wasn't stronger at all. My habit might flex its 'killer' muscles, but the only factual 'killer' was some killer wuss brought into focus by a Little League game.

Moving backwards: How did that match up with moving forward? There was a nanosecond of topsy-turvey to it all. The killer who had once sprouted wings seemed to have lost his flight/fight potential. Please don't take away my habits!

Nor was my Little League moment the only turn-around for the day.

Several days earlier, I wrote to the local paper and begged off writing a monthly column. It was more freight -- however minor at 600-700 words -- than I was willing to take on. I excused myself from the chore I had once agreed to shoulder ... until yesterday when a flight of whimsey overtook me and a somewhat sloppy bit of fun popped off the computer keys ... belatedly, there was a column in hand. It was silly, it was fun, it wasn't very-well argued and yet I enjoyed the smile: If it costs so much to raise a child in the United States, is it possible to sell off the kids for the price it cost to raise them ... and thus ease the fixed-income burden of those who are retired?

A ludicrous proposition and yet ludicrousness had a certain allure. How many of the serious and solemn propositions of daily life dwindle away into ludicrousness and, if there are quite a few, why not enjoy the ride? There were plenty of others hell-bent-for-leather on seriousness and solemnity, so why not pay some small homage the the ludicrous?

Even as a sloppy attempt, I enjoyed the fun... which is quite a far cry from the seriousness and solemnity I have brought to bear in the past?

Is the clock turning backwards ... or forwards?

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