Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Somehow strength


And so the first post of 2011 comes to pass. 12 days in. Oops.
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I've been meaning to write, but there have been so many things coming at me, Christmas, New Year's, and this Wildcat slump of lackluster games. What can I say about any or all of these that is enlightening yet original, inspiring yet not hackneyed? The cliches of the winter holidays (it's a new year! Time with family and friends! Remember the reason for the season! ecetera after infinite ecetera) are Hallmark'd to death, stale until you actually get around to the few moments that hit home, bright rushing candlelight mint-cold clouds and hot mulled smiles... this ache of past and anticipate of future, pulled tight by the "wait!" of present as it rushes by...
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At 5 o'clock on Christmas Eve, I process down the aisle at church with the choir, singing the same song, padding the same red velvet carpet on the same day of every year and I marvel marvel marvel at how once I was seven, once I was thirteen, nineteen, twenty-three -- and my feet always lead me back. At 5:20 on Christmas Eve, I sit in the choir loft and sing "Hark, the Herald Angels Sing" as I watch a couple from the congregation cradle their child backstage, take deep breaths, and walk out to face the congregation. They hold their baby high in the air, wriggling like the Lion King in the spotlight and my voice reaches for the words mild he lays his glory by, born that we no more may die my throat catching because I can't quite grasp them and it is beautiful the child is bright the hope lifts. At 5:50 on Christmas Eve I stretch my eyes over an endless blur of gold in the midst of dusk, candles pulsing and we raise them up -- there's this theme of holding high, holding on, and there is somehow strength in this small gesture of human movement and the light sparks something deep.
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Maybe basketball shouldn't be included in this post that's suddenly taken such a mystical turn, but I've never been one to not throw college basketball into the mysticism of human experience, so what the hell. There are cliches about this one too, and maybe even more than that, depressing thoughts and frustrations that have one cure but so many uncertainties on the road to reaching it (thus increasing frustration). I've been more annoyed and wistful and bordering-on-irrational-emotions in the last three weeks than I have maybe ever in my time watching this team, and I don't know if I can verbally express why that is the case; we've certainly lost before. But it's this sense of regression that people seem to feel and be especially disturbed by, energy lost and nerves tight, why is it this way when it's supposed to be going that way, why is it slipping and what do I do to make it strong again? This ache of past and anticipate of future, pulled tight by the "wait!" (weight?) of present as it rushes by...
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The boys can answer those italics better than we who watch, simply because they have the power to change it -- running and pressing and talking to each other, slapping hands and finding that place within themselves that loses fear and picks up instinct and pride, unrelenting. They possess it, I am certain, because of what they've already done, and because of what they will learn how to do. "Now's the time to reach out and help," said their Coach the other day, and they each have it in their hearts and limbs to do it, to help, to create something good. They've already begun.
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There's this theme of holding high, holding on, and there is somehow strength in this small gesture of human movement...
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I can't be in Belk Arena tonight; the icy patches have made me slower than usual, and tonight I'm 4 hours down the road. I feel strange, leadfooted almost, not walking into Baker with the roving rustling crowd. But as I head downstairs to share a meal with my parents before I drive off tomorrow, and as I fiddle with the volume to reach Kilgo and Ken, cliches keep echoing in my head -- and as much as I tried to be original, they seem to apply to basketball as much or more than Hallmark. I hope they reach y'all, by the time you reach Baker lobby or Brickhouse stairs: Time with family and friends. Remember the reason for the season.

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