Here I am at some ungodly hour up in the night waiting for a sporting event to just get started already.
And I’m trying to imagine a thing I’d be more excited about…just can’t do it.
What about a World Cup Final? If Germany made it all the way to the title game? Been there, done that. When I was new here, we lost to Brazil in the 2002 final. Then a couple of years ago we eeked out a World Cup Final victory against a uncommonly flat Argentina, and…
…Wir sind immer noch Weltmeistah!
What about the Rockets in the NBA Finals? Yep, I was there. Good for them. Both of Akeem ‘The Dream’ Olajuwon’s titles were a joy to behold. Still not the same as right now.
The Chicago Cubs have won the National League Pennant for the first time since 1945. This is big. Really big.
My heart’s been racing since we beat the Dodgers in Game 6, and I cannot stop smiling. In more than one instance the next day I was asked, ‘You’re not going to cry, are you?‘
I just might. Before this is all over, I just might.
See, my Nana is most definitely looking down on us, sitting in the bleachers with the baseball gods.
She’s been cursing the Dodgers since they left Brooklyn, she never accepted the designated hitter nonsense over in the American League and most importantly…
…every year she’s been saying, ‘This is going to be the Cubs’ year. I can feel it. They could really go all the way this year.‘
My Nana was right about so many things, but never as right as right now.
You didn’t even know we had baseball over here, did you? I’ve written about the game before, because I associate it with both my dad and my Nana. It’s one of the only things I miss about living in the US.
To me she’ll always be fifty-five. Isn’t that odd? When I was a certain age, my Nana was fifty-five. And no matter how much older she got, she was somehow still fifty-five to me. Now she’s died and memories of her are swirling round my brain, but there’s still a part of me that thinks of her as being fifty-five.
It’s too easy to say trailblazer, but that’s what she was. She got a PhD in sociology (ABD, but still) when that just wasn’t done…being a woman and all. She quipped her whole life that she married my grandfather during the war, when the only young men available were cripples and preachers. I know I shouldn’t say cripples, but it was her word. Seems weird the very thought of editing her at this point. Like the least I can do is actually use her words faithfully.
So she married a preacher, and they pastored quite a few Methodist churches in West Texas back in postwar America (the one he started in Midland, St Luke’s, is one of the biggest in the region). They’d do a stint for several years in some tiny place and then when everything was relatively stable, they’d be sent on to the next community that needed a church. The funny thing I remember being told was that my Nana didn’t silently grin and bear it when things weren’t to her liking.
When she was displeased about some aspect of being a small town preacher’s wife, she was very vocal about it. I could say it was some sort of Texas thing, but from my perspective it was so much bigger than that.
She loved baseball. She was a fan of the Dodgers until they left Brooklyn. Then she had cable television early on, and we spent summer evening after summer evening watching the Cubs. I’d somehow forgotten how I became a Cubs fan. It was entirely a result of those nights at her place in Kerrville, where if I had the audacity to ask what was on, there was always only one answer. ‘Baseball.’
You know, I could spend the rest of my time here talking about my grandmother and how she spoke her mind. How beautiful her life and even her death were. Yet here I was last night after spreading her ashes in the Guadalupe River, and my niece and I sat together watching baseball. She asked me questions that I asked my Nana. To be candid, questions about baseball weren’t much appreciated, but she’d tolerate them. Begrudgingly.
My niece might’ve had a bit easier time of it. I was likely too eager to make this odd, antiquated game appealing to this little girl of the twenty-first century. But she was genuinely interested. I explained the count, and then spent most of the rest of the game quizzing her, ‘What’s the count?‘ Her brain is always working and she likes having a task. She got the hang of it early on, and thrived on answering each question correctly.
Some Bavarians (not all of them) have a phrase that’s called a Schöne Leiche. Translated literally, it’s a ‘beautiful corpse’, but that’s not at all what it means. If someone had a great life and their family comes together to celebrate rather than mourn, the party afterwards is said to make a Schöne Leiche. That’s certainly what we had.
I’m carrying it with me out of here. I refuse to let it go.
Everyone should have a philosopher in the family. Not necessarily one with a degree and limitless awards. Not that there’s anything wrong with those things. I actually like it that some people out there are still making a living writing scholarly books about philosophy. That even in this postmodern world we still need folk who do serious thinking.
And don’t even get me started on ethicists. Many people’s eyes glass over when a thorny question of ethics comes up, but not me. My ears perk up. The more unsolvable the better.
But back to my family’s philosopher. We don’t have one. Well, my Nana can swear like a sailor when she’s angry, but that’s not the sort of subtlety I’m thinking about.
My grandfather was a student of human behaviour, but he didn’t necessarily like to talk about it at length. One of his oft-used phrases was, ‘Only an idiot talks about politics or religion in polite company.’ I’m convinced the whole idea of blogging would irritate him immensely.
No, in our family I had to look elsewhere for a bit of philosophy. But I didn’t have to look far. My parents have a friend called Andy Finch, and he has theories and ideas on almost everything. Give Andy Finch a new topic and just a bit of time, and without fail, he’ll come up with a novel way of looking at it. Guaranteed.
Despite how well he contemplates issues under time pressure, Andy Finch‘s real gift is the handful of topics that he’s been able to chew on for years and years. And here’s one of his finest. If you think it’s too obvious, ponder it a bit more. It’s a gem.
Older people and younger people misunderstand one another in very profound ways. According to Andy Finch, one particular thing has been at work for a very long time. Generation after generation. I’ll start with how the older generations view the younger ones.
Nearly without fail, older people regularly believe that the whole of society is going in the toilet as a result of the way younger people are running things. It’s not that they believe everything that happened in their time was necessarily rosy. And they rarely have illusions that everything would be better if only they were still in charge. Nevertheless, they truly believe that everything around them is simply falling apart and often that it’s a direct result of poor management and/or lack of foresight.
Please don’t bring me exceptions. There are always exceptions. But think about the older folk you know. Isn’t this just the least bit accurate?
And what about the younger generation? What’s their misperception? According to Andy Finch it has to do with sex. What else, right?
His contention is that younger people always think their generation is the first to really enjoy sex. When they discover it for themselves, they just can’t believe that older people ever felt these emotions quite this vividly. Didn’t experience these sensations quite so dramatically.
Sure…there was procreation. It’s not as if the younger generation disputes the basics of biology or reproduction. But the actual enjoyment of having sex? It’s somehow inconceivable that anyone could’ve ever felt quite this good ever before. And yes, I chose the word inconceivable quite carefully. It’s appropriate on a few levels.
Was reading Andreas Heinakroon‘s blog earlier today about immortality (what I got out of it? the idea of living forever isn’t all it’s cracked up to be), and I got to thinking about something I find curious (before I forget, here it is: Immortality is overrated)
The thing I’ve been thinking about? It’s not a big thing. Blogging sometimes lends itself to pondering the minutiae. But as soon as I say that, I recognise it’s not such a small thing either. Primarily because it has to do with perspective. Enough build up. Let’s jump right in, why don’t we.
When you’re fifteen, you think twenty-five is really old, and thirty-five is inconceivable. I’d even risk saying that when you’re fifteen, anyone above forty is ancient. There might be exceptions to this, but you know what I mean.
So, ten years later? You’re twenty-five now. That’s not so old. Twenty-five is ok. Definitely not old. But thirty-five. Damn…that’s old. And it goes on, doesn’t it? Thirty-five seems old until you’re actually zeroing in on it. Once you’re there? Not so bad.
Throw all of this out the window if you’re unwell. If you’ve got some horrible illness or a loved-one is sick, that clearly impacts your perspective. But assuming you’re relatively healthy, isn’t it curious how subjective we are about age?
When I was a child, my grandmother was fifty-five. Not only was that the number I carried around as my yardstick for ancient, but for many, many years she was still fifty-five in my mind. It’s not as if I was delusional. Or not overly so. But if you asked me how old my Nana was, my immediate thought was fifty-five. Strange, eh?
Have often thought to myself that I’m a very old man stuck in a relatively young man’s body. I love sitting in a café, reading the paper, drinking good tea (sometimes coffee), complaining about the state of the world swirling round me.
I don’t look forward to my body’s degeneration. Who would? That’d be madness. But to feel a bit less of the pressure that I have to accomplish things. The whole ‘youth is wasted on the young’ deal.
Over the years, I’ve spent significant time with older people. One thing I like about these ancient, from my perspective, folk is that they care less and less about what anyone else thinks. This is over-simplified. Clearly. But it’s logical that if you’ve seen enough of life’s experiences, you’ll become more and more accepting of your personality and your character.
The old man lurking inside of me likes the sound of all that. Immensely.