Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Point Is...There Isn't One

Lately, I've found myself in a familiar spot.  I'm keenly aware that it's been more than a month since I've posted on the blog, and I'm also aware that I've only written two posts in the last two months.  I had made a commitment to myself to write more, because I enjoy it.  It's an outlet for me, and allows me to ponder my thoughts for as long as it takes to get the wording right...Something that can't be done in simple conversation.  But, I'm one of those types of people that can't just sit down and write.  I need something...A jogged memory, an interesting, thought-provoking exchange with someone, an "a-ha!" moment...Anything to inspire me.  And, for whatever reason, nothing like that has really taken place over the last couple of months.  I've even sat down multiple times with every intention of cranking out a great post, only to sit and stare at a blank screen for 30 minutes, or get totally distracted by reruns of Family Guy.

In my writing resource class, I have my kids do free-writes all the time.  I give them a sheet of paper, and instruct them to write. 

"What do we write about?" They'll inevitably ask.

"Anything you want.  Write about your weekend.  Write about a dream you had last night.  Make up a story...Literally, write anything you want," I'll tell them.  And they'll go to work, albeit reluctantly. And you know what?  Despite countless spelling and grammatical errors, they usually end up interesting in one way or another.

And yet, despite my propensity to have my students do that, I've never really thought to do it myself.  And if I have, I've quickly dismissed the idea because I think it'll come across as nonsensical and silly, or just downright awful.  But, I really want to write.  So I'm going to.  I will preface this by saying I really don't know where this is going or what will come of it, so if you are already bored then I will not be offended if you close the window now and go back to creeping on Facebook (I won't know the difference anyhow).  So, here it goes.

I love this time of year.  I've written in the past about my hatred of winter and how I spend most of the time longing for hot, summer days out on the lake.  But, I really love spring.  There's something so refreshing about being able to walk outside without a shirt on, and smelling fresh-mowed grass.  As much as they annoy me, I like those first few allergy-induced sneezes.  I love the first tinge of sunburn you feel after spending an entire day outdoors for the first time in months, and I love being kept awake at night by those first few mosquito bites.  They become bothersome and annoying by June, but not now...They're welcomed now.

I love baseball.  Hearing the ping of metal bats on a warm Saturday afternoon is really unlike anything else, and I never realize how much I truly miss playing until I'm out on the field for the first time.  I was unable to land a coaching gig this season, so I started umpiring in the 10th and 11th region, and I absolutely love it.  It's interesting being on the other side of the coin, so to speak, because I've played and coached the game.  And I remember how awful I could be toward umpires, but only when they made a blatantly terrible call.  But, being on this side of things, my entire perspective has changed.  Umpiring is HARD.  Thankless.  Pressure-filled.  But, I like it.  I like being around the game.  I like how, for very brief moments, every coach, player, and fan hangs on my every move.  I like being heckled, to a certain extent, because 90% of the time, they have no idea what they're talking about.  It's good money (way better than I'd get coaching), but that's not why I do it.  Or at least not why I do it now.  It may have started out that way, but now I do it because I love the game and it keeps me near it, even though the satisfaction and adrenaline that comes with coaching and playing isn't present.  I just try to do the best I can, be as consistent as I can, because that's all I ever asked out of umpires when I coached and played.  It has become abundantly clear very quickly, however, that missing a call here and there is absolutely going to happen, and no matter how hard you try to get them all right, you just aren't going to.  And if I ever coach again, I'll try my best to keep that in mind.  You can ask Adrienne...My demeanor changes quite a bit when I'm in that position, but at least now I'll be able to empathize a lot more than I could have previously.  But I've already learned a ton, and I've already noticed subtle improvements in myself just over the course of a few weeks, and that is very gratifying.

I've decided that people are sick.  And not just the ones that put homemade bombs in backpacks in order to injure and kills dozens of innocent people.  It's everyday folks that are sick.  Many are total strangers, but some are people we call friends or even family.  I think the accessibility of information because of the internet and social media plays a huge role in how apparent it is that so many people are grossly maladjusted.  Take for instance the bombing last week, which I already alluded to.  Even before the identities of the suspects were released, people all across the country were formulating and publicizing ridiculous conspiracy theories in regards to the bombings.  People were posting asinine political commentaries on Facebook and Twitter...That sentence almost made me laugh out loud.  Political commentaries.  Facebook.  Twitter.  Really.

"You shouldn't listen to everything you hear on the news!  Look at this Youtube video some random dude made on his mom's iMac!  He's got it all figured out!"
"So, I'm supposed to believe this 24-year-old Michael Moore wannabe instead of the news?  Because?"
"Because the government RUNS the news, man!  They're feeding them everything they want reported!  Don't you see?"
"I see that you're an idiot."

I understand that everyone has their own perceptions and ideals, and they have every right, in this country, to voice those opinions...But that doesn't make them look any less foolish.  Instead of spending their time and energy trying to do something helpful, or at the very least thoughtful, they go to social media and rant about how the government is out to get them, how there's no chance in hell they'd ever give up their rights the way the people of Boston did, how we're all going to hell in a hand basket because Barack Obama is president.  Or we're all going to hell in a hand basket because the Republicans are taking us there. 

That's easy for you to say sitting on your couch a thousand miles away, while those people were dealing with the tragedy and fear of a possibly wired and/or armed maniac running loose through their neighborhoods.  Why does EVERYTHING have to turn into a political debate that will literally accomplish nothing?

I don't want to turn into exactly what I'm criticizing here, so I'm not going to dive any deeper into the politics involved.  That wasn't my point to begin with.  My point is, people are so quick to point fingers and criticize those in charge, or to jump on board with some idiotic theory that could come from anyone with a computer and an imagination, that they end up contradicting themselves.  I realize you shouldn't believe everything you read or see on television.  I realize the government can be corrupt.  But I also realize that the "truth" is never all that cut and dry.  It's usually somewhere in the middle.  And I also realize that I don't need a Facebook post to somehow justify or attribute to my own thinking.  I can make up my own mind.  And I think we'd be a lot better off if people spent less time placing blame and more time working to make real, positive change.

I'm not necessarily talking about political change...Sure, that's part of it.  But, we can all do little things to change the way we interact with people.  We can be more generous with our time and money to help those in need.  We can treat each other with the respect and dignity that we would expect to be treated with (golden rule, anyone?).  We can slow down on a curvy, two-lane highway and not pass 4 cars on a double-yellow line.  We can refrain from flipping somebody off when they give a subtle reminder with their horn that the light is green, and has been for about 10 seconds.  We can use Facebook to exchange inside-jokes, write simple, encouraging messages, or to post pictures of our kids and pets or of fun nights out on the town.  Even though we have every right to do so, we don't always have to speak our minds. 

Ok...So, that was a bit erratic.  And crazy.  And liberating.  Have a great week.