“Dropped the Ball”

I have never been much for sport. The whole competitive team mentality never really made any sense to me…kind of like nationalism… or fundamentalism of any sort really. “We” have to be smarter stronger faster…whatever and beat those people over there at whatever we are doing to show everyone that we are better. What is the point? Reminds me of Peter Gabriel’s cynicism when he said “How can we be In if there is no Outside?”  I did try a few different sports growing up though; played soccer for awhile but mostly found it annoying getting kicked in the shins all the time. Then there was the obligatory school gymnasium –and/or scouting- events; dodgeball and the like, which nearly always seemed to be based on the idea of the big kids bludgeoning the little, awkward, fat, slow, dorky, etc. kids. I just wanted to ride my bike, read comic books, and play D & D. Keep your damn competitions.

dodgeballTo me competition almost always was equated with loosing, or being bludgeoned. Hard to “loose” riding a bike. One can fail, certainly, but it is not a competition… unless you get into the whole bmx or racing thing, but then that would take all of the fun out of it… it would be like competitive mountain climbing or something. What a terrible idea. I do understand the idea of dropping the ball though. The fumble. Fail. In my world though this idea is much more relatable to a juggler; drop one and you are likely to botch the whole business. You just hope that what is dropped are little stuffed penguins or something rather than flaming torches, chainsaws, or the like. But then I never really learned to juggle either.

In our modern, fast paced world there is a lot of competition… and a lot of juggling. Might be why there are times when I want nothing to do with the world. Competing for and then having to juggle resources, responsibilities, duties, obligations, schedules, what-have-you. Sometimes the whole business makes me twitch. Makes me jumpy, like I am always looking over my shoulder, or waiting for the next Fail. But that is life right? In some sense at least. This constant business of having to order, organize, and manage the goings on of each day is just a part of moving through the world. Even in the most basic sense as one has to assure enough resources to ensure one’s survival. But some days are better than others.


I dragged myself out of bed this morning somewhere around 7, knowing that it would be cold. When it is cold the way it has been around here -deep sub-zero cold for days on end- that cold creeps ever further into you. Into your house, your vehicle, your bones. Into your mind. The business of going about your day, of juggling seems to get more complex. Everything moves slower, more sluggish, but the mindset of having to keep up the same pace as usual does not slow. The two are incongruous to me. Must keep the same schedule, manage the same tasks, juggle the same resources, when all you want to do is stay in bed. This is the danger zone. This is when one is likely to “drop the ball”.


-40 noon

Noon yesterday

I neglected to plug in my girlfriends car upon leaving her place yesterday. Which is both understandable and forgivable…except for the reality of it. The underlying problem. I did not simply forget, I dropped the ball. I unplugged my vehicle and rather than plugging hers in, as I have done numerous times before, I hung the plug-in up where it lives when not heating a vehicle. This meant that when she went to start her car this morning to go to work she could not. Fail. Now, I am not really trying to make this particular instance a huge dramatic problem. Rather I am relating a glimpse of my reality in winter. My energy is starting to wane and this is when I start letting things go by the wayside. I wanted to go to the gym yesterday, but just opted not to… no real reason. I want to go curling tonight –know that I should- but would in many ways rather just go home and lock the door behind me. Lock out the world and hide from sight. These are the times –feeling like I am failing- that I want to escape; when I delve into fantasy novels or action movies or video games or comic books. I want to step out of my reality and wrap myself in another. But you cannot escape. You can ignore for awhile -you can hide- but reality will be there waiting for you when you crawl out from under the rock, pale and blinking.

One of the tasks that I must face in the immediate future is writing a performance plan for my job. This entails creating a set of goals, tasks, benchmarks, or whatever that I will propose to achieve over the course of the next year and then getting my supervisor to accept them and sign off on the document. In many ways it is a great, liberating concept. I am the master of my fate and all that. Shoot for the stars. Set the stage to achieve greatness… or to fail. My supervisor likes quantifiable benchmarks… success that can be counted. He likes to keep score. I just want Gollum’s ring, despite the knowledge that over-use of its power will only prolong the inevitable and twist the mind into dark places.

On a better note, the first installment of The Hobbit will be released in mere days…and I just found out that the local theater is running an LOTR marathon!


3 thoughts on ““Dropped the Ball”

  1. The only competition I’ve ever been fond of is on an individual level. It’s the only reasonable kind anyways. Or at least that’s my excuse. Riflery, while a team sport, was really more focused on personal improvement: no depressing races (why is there even a ribbon for 7th place? I think I was more embarrassed to receive a ribbon for it than I was rof having run it), no idiotic ball through small net/goal/target that required actual hand-eye coordination, no awkward, halfhearted cheer squad.

    One of life’s major stresses is that constant feeling of being evaluated. Even if it’s just on a small scale by friends and family. Maybe it’s just me but I feel like human interaction in general is very complicated and inherently stressful but to add on top of that responsibilities, work, personal relationships, etc. I often wonder why we do it to ourselves. Why we aren’t all hermits, or kitten breeders, or brewers of alcohol, or similarly rewarding occupationalists (though not, perhaps, monetarily).

    Or maybe we’re all mutually stressed out by one another and it’s just a strange bonding experience/personal development process. I somehow doubt that though. It does seem like there are some people who either actually enjoy it or are just really good actors.

    Meh, I’m rambling. Point being, I hear ya.

    (And w00t! LOTR!/The Hobbit! I’m also looking forward to Les Misrables).

    • I once got a trophy for coming in dead last in a putt-putt golf competition. How wonderfully ludicrous is that? I also have two “gold” medals, first place awards for a Tae Kwon Do competition I participated in…I was the only person in my age/rank group and so won by default.

      As for evaluation, when it comes down to it I am my own harshest critic and tend to hold preposterous standards. I really do not need the quibbling quantification that is embedded in bureaucracy, but it is a necessary evil in this time and place.

      Mutual stress being a strange bonding experience I think has its place…but maybe not the work place. I suppose it depends on what one is into.

      And, as usual…ramble on my friend, that is why we are here in THIS particular time and place.


      • Ah, participation medals. They mean well when they think these things up. I’m sure of it.

        The quantification always bothered me a bit. Quotas seem out of place in regards to heritage management/preservation fields. I do understand the need for budgeting purposes and planning and what not but as you said it is very bureaucratic.

        In regards to bonding over stressful encounters, I suppose I am lucky that my workplace is also my academic setting. My coworkers/colleagues are also my cohort. So in a sense it’s a juggling act between being friends and professional coworkers in some instances (and with some people more than others). Our awkward social encounters are something that we discuss regularly in the context of social sciences/scientists.

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