Thursday, October 24, 2013

Dialogue ( & a poem) with Tony Trigilio (Red Sox fan) during the World Series, 2013

 [Tortilla on our Cardinals shrine]

[On the blog, the spacing of this prose comes out looking like poem. I'll leave it that way.]

Aloha Tony--I hardly know what to say after yesterday's disastrous performance by
my Cardinals, their/our fifth straight loss at Fenway in a World Series. Losing Beltran was the unkindest cut of all. But I've been thinking about the spiritual element of baseball, and the way
being a fanatic about the sport, especially in October, seems to go against many
of the principles we try to hold to: clarity of mind, detachment, acceptance of impermanence,
balance in all things.

As I told you in a facebook chat box (not a diamond, but a box), during the last game
of the National League Championship series I walked toward my office and away from
my last class of the day with a feeling of absolute serenity. I walked slowly even. That's
a rare feeling for me in October! Then, during yesterday's rout, what I saw of it, between
classes and other duties, I began to feel hostility toward Boston, its players, my friend
from MA who is suddenly emailing me about baseball, nearly everyone. When my husband
suggested I leave the utility room in the English department where I've spent many Octobers,
in favor of a public space, I said no, not with the score the way it is. Shane Victorino is from HI,
so everyone will be cheering for him. (So is Kolten Wong,but the guy has yet to prove he can hit.)
Add terrible self-consciousness onto the list of bad spiritual practices then, alongside
black and white thinking and sheer obsessiveness.

So why am I a fan? Apart from having made a decision to support the Cardinals in 1967, during
another series with the Red Sox, I wonder. I made that decision when I was eight years old, going
on nine. Most such decisions don't last this long, but here I am in 2013, with a 14-year-old son
who loves the Cardinals and a husband who played along until it took, and a daughter who at
least wants to watch the highlights. Some of it is that I find baseball to be a beautiful sport,
one that allows for meditative spaces in which to think about what happens next--on the field
or in my head. But some, quite frankly, is that it allows these "base" feelings free reign. I can
indulge myself in aspects of my character I usually steer around, and the results do not hurt
anyone. (Even if my dad, during the 1987 Series, once told me he was worried I'd have a heart

Do we go with these feelings, exploring them in this relatively harmless space of sport, or do
we work through them as they occur, practicing detachment as we watch our Cards and Bosox
this afternoon/evening?  I have a department meeting at that time--an important one--so will
have to watch the box score on my iPad as I argue over the English 100 rotation and the hiring
of more adjuncts (that's a real problem).

Go Cards! Susan

Here's the poem I wrote after Carlos Beltran's injury yesterday.  If we lose him for the Series, we're sunk. He's waited 18 years for this chance . . .

(after Frank O'Hara)

Poem (Carlos Beltran has hit the wall)

Carlos Beltran has hit the wall!
I was watching Fox TV in a utility
closet alongside six hand trucks old plates
old microwave old coffee pot old tea
but I had a class to teach on Joe
(“I remember”) Brainard and I
was in such a hurry to get to moore
hall that I missed seeing you crash into
that low Fenway wall as you reached
for Ortiz's would-be grand slam so
my son had to tell me on the phone
there is snow on the television screen
there is rain in Honolulu
I have been to lots of ballgames and shouted
“dirt ball!” at the pitchers but I never actually hit the wall
oh Carlos Beltran we love you get up

--Susan M. Schultz

1 comment:

Adam Aitken said...

Love the post Susan, and the poem. As for the means to balance an acceptance of impermanence with a lifelong obsession - I have yet to find it myself. To be really good at a sport, you need the obsessiveness to practice repetitive movements, until they are second nature. The feeling of being in the zone, as they say, is a form of serenity in movement...