Blogging happens even when I don’t blog.
Take the week that was. I met deadlines, commitments. I found myself at midnight, ready to write and read, yet short on midnight oil. One can’t burn what one doesn’t have. The writing mind kept sentinel, though, when my waking mind could not.
Strife swirled all around.
My city caught fire. Fellow citizens rose up and spoke out. Those of us who didn’t, wanted to. We felt, perhaps, shame in our voice. Undeserved shame. All voices warrant value. I held words in and wore my Broncos cap and saw connections between strife and tension.
I walked sidelines that were riddled with vitriol.
I traversed the horde, set hard in their divisions. Us against them, they’re wrong, we’re right. The refs hate our team. The girls on the other team are evil. Are you kidding me? Don’t let her push you. Retaliate. Who are you passing to? Why do you need a water break?
I caught myself
Just watch them play, I said out loud, not entirely on purpose. Jesus.
I created as much division as I lashed out against. I walked away, looked at the field, and sought a new perspective. Like Elise’s 1-0 loss on Family Weekend, or Grace’s 6-1 loss on Thursday, Marie’s 1-0 victory on Sunday capped an incredible match of play.
It appeared obvious to those on the pitch, the significance; to those just off the touchline, amid folding chairs and angry words, remained oblivious.
On the field, the struggle is real. You want to move this way. We want to move that. The heat sears, the ball bounces, the opportunities arise and falter. Close scores and blowouts. The teams and the kids become part of a whole, a cosmic convergence, we fans fail to see.
We see only division.
We see it off the field. Hometown radio hosts bellowing how not-special an opponent is, even in the throes of a runaway victory. Citizens decry “it was a book!” and “he is a criminal!” and both sides failing to recognize any humanity because they’ve shunned it.
How many times can she do this?
I teetered on the brink of anger as I felt Elise’s match slipping away, even before the mortal score.
I rose with every save, and my heart sank with every counterattack. How many times can she do this? Can she keep turning them away? What if we go to overtime again? How’s her hip? How’s her defense holding up? What will happen next?
The shot that sunk them fired in on two misdirections.
Elise had answers for the first two, not the last. Only 5 minutes remained for her team to level the score. She hunched over, hands on knees, and two of her defenders knelt, broken hearted. One stood and embraced Elise. The clock ticked away, and another foul was called.
A dad from the other side turned to me.
“It’s been a tough day for calls,” he said, surprising me. “They’ve missed some obvious ones, and then those like that, you don’t know why they whistled it.” The call went against his daughter’s team as they fought to hold a lead. I stepped up right beside him.
A dad, from the other side, initiated this
We asked each other whose daughters were whose, and talked about how tough it is to win when you don’t score.
Two dads, one game. He recognized, perhaps easier than I, that our daughters were caught up in a whole that shared more in common than was at odds. The uniforms, opposite colors; the girls, cut from the same mold of hope and dedication and strength.
“Maybe we’ll see you down the road,” he said, and I wished him a safe trip back.
Women on Elise’s side shed tears after, manifested pain for having a match slip away again. Dual frustration, perhaps, for not finishing a scoring chance, and also for failing to defend the one against them.
The reaction might have puzzled the other team; they might have understood completely.
I’ve wanted to write about elephants, for weeks. I want to tie lessons we can learn from these magnificent beasts to the way we react in a tumultuous world. I see, instead, hours packed with dinner making and oil changes and trips to the next match.
‘I play football, too’
I see also, a sweet boy named Alex who approached me during halftime of Marie’s match Sunday. Grace and I tossed a football, and he chimed in.
“I … I … I …” he stammered. I took a knee in front of him. “I play football, too,” he finished, a smile spreading on his face as he tugged at his white mesh jersey. I asked, and he said he played safety. We broke into a game of catch, until Marie’s match resumed.
I turned on a throw-in early in the half to see Grace sitting with Alex on the turf, tossing a soccer ball back and forth. She waved.
Loving kindness. Not tolerance; something grander. I tolerate cauliflower and Adele songs. I adore warm tortillas and Nora Jones. It’s removing the stigma of Us vs Them that reveals so much common ground we fight so hard to ignore in the name of being right.
It’s 2:39, and I should be rounding out halftime of a good night’s sleep.
Here I am. Unable to rest if I let another day go by when blogging stays in my head and heart. Not now, not with much at stake. I won’t bridge the gaps, turn sentiment of those who hate my team’s hat or the stance they presume I take on any issue.
Of the most common truths
I still have sleep to catch, better to do. It happens in the halo in which I live. It comes from within me, and for you too. Not of superior intellect or emotion; of common truths, of a connectedness to everything around me despite urges on all sides to divide and categorize.
Win or lose, agree or disagree, even after the heartbreakingest matches, there are walks down to the farm and sisters arm in arm as they provoke pigs and count chickens and playfully attempt to bring each other down on the dirt path they walk.
There’ll be dinners on a porch and care packages and road trips and sad goodbyes but happy times before. For us, and for those who know us.
Left or right, home team or visitor, whether you lash out or reach out, whether you tailgate me or talk to me, on the road or on the sideline or on my blog, we exist in a greater whole that can melt into a greater consciousness, if we’ll only allow it.
There’ll be room for elephants, too. In time.