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Thursday, September 30, 2021

Possibility And Perishability - Red October Angst

The hunt for certitudes in a modern-day Red October.

By Harry Cummins

     For those of us who distill sports as a way to measure our seasons on this earth, the calendar now flips to October.  As it was in pre-pandemic times, many of our favorite fun and games converge this month in a rushing river of  entertainment. The MLB playoffs share the spotlight with the NFL and college football.  Exhibition games begin in the NHL and NBA.  College basketball begins this month with unrecognizable rosters altered by new eligibility and transfer rules.

     Is it just me.... but does this all feel notably different this October.

     We have all had to come to terms with living in an altered world.  Our disagreements now border on political and personal revolution.  Many are left with the question, 'What is it all about'?  In a search for certitudes, sport becomes distraction, with a Covid-shaped cloud circling our arenas and playing fields.

     No matter our age, we each are swept up in a subversive surge toward the inevitable hereafter. The next day.  The next year. Finally our death.  In a world where so many perishables exist, we instinctively long for something that lasts. Something to hold onto! Something to transcend mere time passing.

     So, as you search for what is real in this red October, perhaps still leave room for the changing landscape of sport. Look for those athletes in whatever sport, that seem to understand what is means to hold on.  To hold on to values and virtues and real possibilities. They embody the legacy of human effort that sport has traditionally typified. Moments of sheer beauty and possibility. 

     These are not easy markers to spot from the make believe heights of headlines and box scores, but it seems to be something to which many feel summoned this October, 2021.  Find that place in life where your grip was once the most hopeful and..hold on... it says to us.

     The French activist Simone Weil once said that the only real question to be asked of another is "what are you going thru?"  It is a question we are obliged to ask not only of our neighbors and strangers, but also of our athletes.

     Assuming duration (holding on to the right things) can ultimately create possibility, let our games go on with a renewed understanding of those who play them..and just why we should watch!





Friday, September 17, 2021

Spring Training 1985 - With Doc Gooden


  Spring Training 1985-

     "It says right here they think I could have a pretty good year"

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Places We Claim By Memory


Roads to worlds we once knew...

By Harry Cummins

     We each have them.  Places and landscapes from our past that remain indelible.

     Forty-one years ago I lived alone as caretaker in an abandoned mansion that is now part of a winery located west of Portland, Oregon.  For the two years I lived there, my only companions were a Great Dane dog and a friendly ghost who was often heard but never seen. Mostly, I was alone with my own thoughts.

     I resided in a small apartment above a 4-car garage connected to the back end of the house.  It overlooked a large lake that today is surrounded by mature vineyards with expansive and unspoiled vistas. My responsibilities included maintenance of a massive lawn and periodically dusting dozens of empty rooms for those potential buyers that seldom came.  I would ride my bike back and forth to a nearby town each day, where I held what most would consider a much more respectable job. It was merely a continuation of what has become for me a lifelong 'straddle' of inner work and outer work, the visible world along side the unseen one.

     Last week I paid an early September visit to my former "home" and instantly realized how easily we can repeatedly reclaim these special places thru the natural process of remembering.  Of course, memories become selective after four decades and offer little clue as to why and what we choose to remember and forget.

     As long as our memories remain unclouded by age, disease, or searing regret, I realized what a blessing it is to be able to simply recall.  There is abiding affection for these special places (and people) that have either vanished or changed over the years.  Or still remain.

     Places and people, like divine promises, that have lovingly persisted and unknowingly transformed us. We caretakers all.

"Try to remember the kind of September ....when life was slow and oh so mellow. Try to remember when you were a tender and callow fellow Try to remember.... and if you remember... ..follow.

                              -Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt, songwriters