Dusk Dodgers in the 21st Century

The sun is shining bright through our home office window as I begin typing this. There’s a short but powerful time period in our house when, on a cloudless morning, the sun enters like a bullet through the half-circle opening above the drapes, and I almost have to duck for cover as I write. In those moments, the sun owns the room.

It makes me uncomfortable. I’m not a sun worshiper. I like what the sun can do, how the sun can augment a scene. On a cold day that cries for warmth, I’ll turn my face to it. Magic light near the end of any day brings my soul to its knees, no matter how many times I experience it. I pulled my phone out on the Arroyo Seco Parkway last night, recklessly risking life and limb of myself and everyone around me, just to snap the shot you see above of how the sun had transformed the sky.

But I’m comfortable in the clouds. Comforted by them. The clouds understand me. Clouds are the weather of modest expectations. Of empathy. The sun will insistently try to cheer you up, whether you want to be cheered or not. At the risk of allowing you to wallow, clouds tell you that you’re not alone.

For the same reason, I prefer winter to summer, earlier sunsets to later ones. Long days carry great expectations. Short days accept you for who you are.

The new year is two weeks old, and already I’ve felt like I need all the short, cloudy days I can get. My holidays were really enjoyable and relaxing, and returning to the demands and fears and frustrations and critical self-examinations of everyday life, along with a new set of challenges – a valued colleague gave notice while I was on vacation, my wife broke her foot the night before my first day back at work – has been a jolt. It’s been the sun blasting through the window that I want to run away from but can’t. I’m not feeling the dawn of a new day, but rather the intimidation of a tired one.

My To Do list should invigorate me, but it makes me sad.  It’s no time for the sun to be out.

So here’s the funny thing …

The 2011 Dodgers … a team for a cloudy day, right? The starting rotation is competitive, and Clayton Kershaw is his own shining light. There’s talent on this team. But the holes are unmistakable, and the work that needs to be done to make things right is prodigious. If Kershaw is a star, the McCourts are their own rainstorm. It’s easy to feel that this isn’t a team meant to be exposed to long, cloudless summer days.

Nevertheless, I find myself strangely eager to see what will happen this season. I feel confident that some of the disappointments from 2010 will bounce back, and I’m tantalized by the thought of it. As many misgivings as I have about them, on some days, I feel better thinking about them than thinking about myself.

I feel the 2011 Dodgers might surprise. I’m not saying they won’t fall to our lowered expectations – I unmistakably wish they inspired more confidence – but I’m intrigued by them, darkness and all. If they can bring some magic light to the universe, maybe I can too.

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