Thursday, September 30, 2010

A Great Strange Dream

“I saw that my life was a vast glowing empty page and I could do anything I wanted.”
-Jack Kerouac

It’s late September in the Midwest, the clouds look like nothing but big bright clouds against the shreds of evening sun, and Michigan still hasn’t lost a game. Everything seems possible, even if it’s really not. My dreams have filled once more with flashes of maize and blue through fields of green. For the moment, the page shimmers, blank on the writing table. Denard Robinson is approaching the line of scrimmage impossibly quickly. Anything could happen.

As you’ve doubtless read and heard in newspapers and on TV, we’ve seen this script before. I’ll not recount the failures of the last two Octobers. You know them well enough, I’m sure, and maybe, like me, you believe in your heart that this year will be different. We’re both worried just the same.

For another week at least, I’ll ignore my fears: that this is all illusion, that the weaknesses revealing themselves in the background of the beginning of this season will serve as some terrible postscript of what must come. Maybe I’m whistling through the black alley of my heart, but for another weak, at least, we are undefeated and invincible.

If one were so inclined, he could compare so much of football to a life: a career, a season, a game, a play. Each begins and ends in its own time, and most end up forgotten. Some seem important while they happen, but few stand out for long after the final call. But maybe that’s beside the point. Maybe we should avoid the grand comparisons because, after all, football isn’t much like life at all. And thank god for that.

I spent two years of my early 20s teaching creative writing as a graduate assistant at Michigan, and one of the common tropes that my student’s invariably wrote about was the uniqueness of snowflakes. This was a habit I tried very hard, sometimes successfully even, to break out of them. One of my most successful tactics was to point out to the student in question that while each snowflake might be slightly different, each is really about the same. And what’s so interesting about that?

It seems there’s something though, because I love football so. And while each game and play and season and career is unique in its own way, to the world at large, each really is almost identical, another score scrolling across the bottom of the screen, another fall in Ann Arbor, the last strains of The Victors disappearing into the night.

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