There’s a lot of sleight of hand involved in October, but perhaps its greatest achievement is bringing an end to baseball season without generally making me upset about said end. Granted that the excitement of playoff baseball and its association with October helps, but all too often October comes with no real hope for the Mariners and often no hope for any team I particularly care for. (Indeed, with the demise of the Twins tonight, I find myself rooting for, what, a Red Sox-Phillies World Series? Yawn.) Yet October is able to draw me away from baseball with smoke and mirrors and pumpkins. Mostly pumpkins.
Tonight (or rather, the last night of September), I had the distinct privilege of listening to the full game of perhaps the most satisfying Mariner win all season. I mean, strategically it was unsatisfying, given that the M’s were eliminated from contention over a week ago. But Brandon Morrow nearly threw a no-hitter, Griffey hit a three-run homer in the first inning, and the M’s clinched a winning record for the campaign, leaving themselves an outside shot of passing the Rangers for 2nd in the AL West. And Rick Rizzs almost predicted a homer (turned out to be a triple off the top of the wall) on a precise pitch and then nearly had a stroke calling the play he had nearly predicted. All the while, I was reminded of how much I love listening to baseball in particular, how the quiet nights in my room with a game remind me of so many quiet nights in my room with a game from younger years.
The nights have been quiet lately largely because of Em’s efforts to acclimate herself once more to a studying routine, while I try to write and (much harder) find the discipline to code changes for the Blue Pyramid. Tonight, for example, I was working on the tedious conversion of the Book Quiz pages to the new navigation-bar format. I’m also trying to get the jump on the long-awaited Book Quiz II, which I’m hoping to have out by the time American Dream On is ready. The former could not be much less of a priority, however, especially by comparison, though watching the BP’s sagging stats always gets me back on my horse for a while.
Like anything, these projects – even Em’s studying – are all about momentum. Getting in a groove and then finding things satisfying or rewarding enough about that groove that make it worthwhile to stay there. Or, more accurately, to return there time and again, to recreate that space. When the space is wide enough, this is easily done with writing. Pretty much everything one does (or at least I do – perhaps I shouldn’t attempt to speak objectively about what may ultimately be a very personal experience) relies on the renewal of the font of momentum, the benefits of being in the zone. This is perhaps why so many people give up so completely in their place of work and general approach to a day job: the feeling of obligation alone is insufficient to charge the batteries that generally get their best fuel from excitement or passion.
Of course, obligations provide a fear factor and disciplinary onus that those who haven’t completely checked out come to rely on to keep them going through a day job work week. So a big part of the game of these two years is about revving the engines without overt obligation (though self-imposed deadlines help) and pacing oneself with the constant celebrations of milestones in writing, in coding, even in playing basketball or walking the cat (long story, but she needs to eat grass for her digestion). Debate, unsurprisingly, is taking care of itself. If anything, I need to find ways to limit my attention on the debate coaching side so it doesn’t consume the time required for everything else.
Why? Because debate is exciting, innately sort of passionate. It creates its own rewards very quickly. The thrill of one round, the excitement of even one well-answered Point of Information, these things are enough to charge months’ worth of batteries. I have had so many dreams in the past seven years about being back in rounds and wanting to savor a last competitive semester or year. Despite my interest in both, I have had no such heartbreaking dreams about the summer of 2001 or a chance to code a quiz.
The challenge right now, the challenge of a life lived creatively and deliberately in a variety of pursuits, is the create the fire of a competitive event in everything I do. And starting in four days, I won’t have baseball to distract/inspire me.
It’s starting to get colder. Already we’re starting to debate when we’ll have to bite the bullet and actually turn on the heater.