Delight Springs

Friday, October 25, 2013

You've got to be carefully taught

If being a sports fan is good for anything, I was saying in class, it's for reinforcing resiliency and hope. One day you're down, the next you're up. StL 4, Boston 2. Series knotted. I'm up!

But I do feel for the New Englanders who are down this morning. I learned to stop being such a "homer" and to enjoy the happiness of Sox fans in '04, when I saw what breaking The Curse at the Cards' expense did for them. I'd never seen so many beaming smiles, such radiant joy, as on display by the Vandy contingent of Red Sox Nation the day after Game #4.

That's what else sports can reinforce, if you let it: a cosmopolitan feeling of empathy for other tribes. If I'd been born just slightly to the north and east, after all, I'd likely have been fated to be one of those longer-suffering Cubbie fans. "Hey Chicago, whaddya say..."

Our friend from Brooklyn who was in my living room when I got home and turned on the game last night, the Yankees fan, harbors no such feelings. "The Red Sox are evil!" My colleague in the next office says the same thing. It's South Pacific syndrome: you've got to be carefully taught to hate, etc.

My students taught me well yesterday, sharing great songs and images and ideas. John Lennon, Steely Dan, Chris Arnade's disturbing photos, the 2013 World Happiness Reporta mood quiz, The Geography of Bliss, Ishmael...

And Mary Schmich, via Baz Luhrmann:
Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth. Oh, never mind. You will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they've faded. But trust me, in 20 years, you'll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can't grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked. You are not as fat as you imagine.

Don't worry about the future. Or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blindside you at 4 p.m. on some idle Tuesday...
And be liberal with the sunscreen.

Then, some insight from Brennan on how to take Buddhist "woo" when it comes to talk about candles and karma and rebirth and other supernatural-sounding stuff. Remember, he says, these are stories (parables, myths, koans) designed to provoke and awaken, not necessarily theories or arguments intended to persuade western philosophy-style. He also cautions not to assume, on the basis of that quote from Meaning of Life citing beer-drinking as an example of desire and attachment without satisfaction, that HH the DL does not condone our Happy Hours.

And then, some constructive feedback from James on being careful with "addiction". I'd said I have a walking/biking addiction but merely a beer-drinking habit. Really?

Maybe. I do think a good habit can be a positive, life-giving, happy-making (psychological, physiological) addiction. I also think taking habitual personal pleasure in beer can enhance life, pleasure, satisfaction, and conviviality without sapping all will and self-control. It need not turn into William James's "so degrading a poisoning." Though it can, of course. It did for one of his siblings. 

Do take care.

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