Understanding

Here we are again, Gentle Reader.  Not without incident, naturally, but hey.  That’s how we roll.

So, futbol!  It’s quite a revelation to see, on the one hand, the clearly absolute Oneness of all of us, and on the other, the visible results of colonialism and imperialism on the world’s populations, the separation and jingoism, as my friend B. called it yesterday, between countries in competition and all of it stirred up and poured over the world in a semi-frothed condition.  Soccer is a strange combination of politics, history and time, incredible individual physical conditioning, and of course totally Byzantine rules.   I remind myself that rules for sports were developed by….participants in the patriarchy, shall we say? so it’s not surprising that umpires and referees and officiators everywhere, in their exercise of their particular power, can splay and redirect a game while enforcing the aforesaid rules.  Anyway, watching all this soccer is like a crash course in all of that.  While watching grown men in shorts run around chasing a ball, I think about everything that happened to get us all here.  It is also interesting that while I can watch the games without Knowing the Rules and Why Everything Happens and enjoy them nonetheless, the Partner is constantly trying to understand those same Rules and feeling he’s missing something by not knowing them all.  This has, of course, mostly to do with our respective sexes I think, but it’s still interesting.

Which is not to say that I am not enjoying it all a lot.  In fact, I’ve moved into full fan status.   The handsomeness!  The salsero Colombian team!  The Iranian Goalie!  OCHOA! The American Goalie!  Messi!  Watching Germany and Ghana play was as wonderful as watching France and Switzerland was awful.  Etc.

Again one’s attention is drawn to the what of all this.  Until lately, I had absolutely no idea that there was so much sport on U.S. television.   It’s either sports or “reality” for the most part, with alligators and frontal nudity, spots of gunfire, arguments and reconciliations and jokes forming the “reality”.  Bread, in short, and circuses.  An enforced short attention span, and relentless commercialism.  I suppose what’s really bothering me is that I can no longer just….lose myself in something, feel at home in the world.  There is always an overarching awareness, something in the air, that says the seemingly “normal” appearance of things is actually not so, and not so at all.  It is as though things are shifting before our very eyes, and we don’t really know what we’re looking at.  (I certainly don’t.)  It seems so often that the very things I love so much are vanishing before my  eyes (like, uh, courtesy? and polar bears? and affordable housing? viable oceans?), yet the endless output of media and society seems to say, everything is just fine.  But it isn’t fine at all, really.

I don’t know how much all this has to do with my own orientation in time, and the practice of knowing that Death is always present.  Things change, as they need to and must, things die and others appear.    Perhaps it is a sense of your own mortality that finally sinks in and gives everything a sharp and poignant edge, even as it blurs the edges and distinctions of things at the same time.   So much rides on what we decide and do, and on the other hand, nothing at all rides on it.  Life is like a huge clock with sweeping movements and innumerable elements, and our job (I guess) is to keep our little elements going in the right direction without much of a compass.  People can go through a lot, and endure a lot.  But there is always a cost, and it can be difficult to look dispassionately at the story and see that overall, balance is maintained.   And things do have to die, one way or another.  Maybe that’s why we watch sports after all:  the possibility of joy and triumph is always there, as is the equal reality of loss and despair, right in front of you.   Macrocosm in microcosm.  You see the effort and work, the element of luck and the fact that sometimes no matter what someone does, they don’t win.   Sports rules are wacky because they’re about trying to impose someone’s idea of  concrete order on something like running water or a windstorm.  I suppose governments could be seen in that light as well.   Maybe this is all more of a question about how rules should, in fact, be made, and what kind.   This has clearly been an item of concern for the last couple of thousand years- even Moses came down off that mountain with more rules than anyone would put up with and had to pare his list down- you can see how well we’ve done with that, too.  For now, then, I guess this is the task.  NEW RULES.  Where shall we start?

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