Small Minds, Small Pleasures
People follow many diverse entertainment options, that encompass every aspect of our culture. In a perfect world everyone would have the right to pursue interests, regardless of how others view that particular activity. In the past few weeks I have had the opportunity to hear about many different leisure activities that folks engage in, and some are very different from the things that interest me. Vive la difference.
For instance, I am a fan of professional sports. The sound you hear is a combination of whooshing, as doors all over the blogging world are suddenly slamming shut, and clicking, as fingers direct the cursor to another site. Many people shy away from modern sports because of the amount of money players make, many dislike the violence of hockey and football, and many see sports as a waste of time. Who cares what happens to a bunch of men or women, who are playing kids’ games?
I might make similarly disparaging comments about the futility of watching reality TV, when I am starring in my own series, sans the camera, or watching other shows which feature aspects of our culture that defy explanation. I refer to shows which depict crimes in action, and the way law enforcement deals with them; shows that degrade women, and perpetuate stereotypes of what women should look like, and shows that feature gratuitous violence or sex for the sake of cheap thrills.
I like to follow the 49ers and the Giants, but unlike most fans, I am not as concerned with the winning aspect, as I am with the element of the entertainment. All of the years my three sons, each nineteen months apart in age from his brothers, were growing up, we made a ritual of carrying around a portable radio, and listening to sports events while we did any number of tasks.
A principle source of fuel for the wood stoves is manzanita. Most people link manzanita to beautifully polished lamp stands, or to arid climates where the heat is a predominant factor, but in the coastal mountain ranges of NorCal, manzanita grows like devils weed in lawns. It is beautiful but it also has a proportionately short lifespan compared to most other trees and shrubs. Consequently, when we first moved here, thirty years ago, the hillsides were strewn with vast unlimited quantities of downed manzanita. The oils diminish over time, but the wood stays burnable for decades, When thoroughly dried, it breaks cleanly when hit with a maul.
In addition to as much oak and madrone as I can possibly acquire, without simply picking up the phone and ordering it at a cost of between 300 and 350 dollars a cord, I try to supplement the wood-burning program with as much manzanita as possible. It burns extremely hot, and very clean, so as to offset the creosote build-up that inevitably occurs with the burning of most other wood, especially fir and pine, which contain so much pitch.
So as we gathered, broke up, and relocated the wood to near the house, we listened to the 49ers every Sunday on the fall, since there was no TV reception. And with the Giants playing 162 games in each season, with all games broadcast on the radio, we had job security. It was a very good tool for the dad and sons to engage in, because it gave me the opportunity to model sportsmanship, especially the part about handling defeat. My philosophy has always been that if my team wins, I allow myself to be “as giddy as a schoolboy,” as Ebenezer Scrooge phrased it, upon finding out that the ghosts had done their work prior to Christmas morning.
However, if they lose, what do I care? I have to get up and go to work the next day regardless, so it is of little or no concern to me, what my team did the previous day. Additionally, I am not so much a fan of football, or baseball, as I am a fan of the Niners and the Giants. Rarely will I watch a contest between two teams that does not involve my home team. I may watch a playoff game, featuring two teams who represent the next opponent of the Niners, but otherwise, not so much.
Finally, I like to emphasize the positive, “the hope that springs eternal, within the human breast,” as it was put in Casey at the Bat. There is a lot that can be taught about accepting that over which you have no control, and handling disappointment so as not to cloud other elements of one’s life. Now we get together occasionally for special games, and it is always lightweight and breezy. With the Niners going into this year’s playoffs, we are pleasantly buzzing with excitement, but also realistic about how hard it is to achieve the Lombardi Trophy. The Niners have been to the Big Show five times, and have come away with the prize all five times. No other NFL club has been to more than one Superbowl, who can make the same claim.
So maybe we advance and place another feather in our cap, or maybe we go down, ignominiously, in our first game. It’s all good, as oldest son Casey would say. Just being there for the first time since 2002, is huge. Losing would not diminish this year’s accomplishments.
Like my philosophy of baby steps, my philosophy on sports works for me, because I know my own self, and therefore the axiom, “small minds, small pleasures” applies. Besides, maybe we get lucky and win, and I can use that red-tailed hawk feather I just found to stick in my cap. It would go well with the other five.