By Jon Weisman
While I finished my last final exam in college and turned pro, the Dodgers were in Vero Beach, preparing to defend their 1988 World Series title, five short, happy months after winning.
Since then, the Dodgers have pursued their eternal dream, and I have pursued mine. Theirs is a stationary target, mine changing with the light: sportswriter, novelist, screenwriter, blogger, author, interviewer, columnist, editor. Not to mention decent husband, decent father.
Sometimes, I have to step back and ask myself who I really want to be. In a Western, you might call it “someone to be reckoned with.” I’m picturing a high noon scene on Main Street, villagers gathered with anticipation on either side, and I’m ambling down the middle of the dirt road, holstering, I don’t know, a tweet.
But most days, it isn’t a calm stride, walking tall, gaze pointed at the horizon. It’s a chase — running, scrambling, down-in-the-dirt crawling — trying to get that horizon before the sun goes down.
It’s in that scramble that you can lose perspective, lose your peripheral vision, kicking up so much dust that you can’t see what’s along side of you.
So I slow down, take a breath, take a look left at my wife, a look right at my kids. Smile, breathe. I look forward again, and the horizon is that much farther away.
You want the world to wait on you, but the world doesn’t wait on anyone.
I’ve spent so long on this chase, I don’t really remember much of living life any other way. Does it start with school? The minute you’re asked to get a good grade, are you placed on the path?
I race to be the most I can be while my parents are still alive. They’re active, healthy for their ages, but arguably, I’m already playing in extra time.
Like me, my wife’s dreams bend with reality, and she adapts. She takes openings and makes compromises. Her life’s ambition becomes a hobby, her day-to-day duties her destiny.
Then one, two, three children. Their chase becomes ours as well. Crawling, walking, reading, spelling, growing, dreaming. The children ride a roller-coaster of possibility, while we agonize over their presents and futures.
As of late September, my oldest is 13. At a party, I watch her dance with her friends, a memory I will never forget, because I’m so clearly witnessing the criss-cross of childhood and adulthood. In her dancing comes the warm-cool breeze of her grown-up self. I want to reach out and touch the waning strands of her youth. They are long and shiny, but like tinsel, they won’t hold.
I’m trying to run here, and the world’s ever and ever knocking my feet out from under me. Like a castle in dry sand, as you add to the top, the bottom erodes.
In a better world, the goal would only be in the day, the plain day. Waking up and living and going to bed content. In “Blue, Red and Grey,” Pete Townshend sings ..
Some people seem so obsessed with the morning
Get up early just to watch the sun rise
Some people like it more when there’s fire in the sky
Worship the sun when it’s high
Some people go for those sultry evenings
Sipping cocktails in the blue, red and grey
But I like every minute of the day
But I don’t live in that world. Neither does Townshend, who in this live version, calls himself a bleepin’ liar. Neither do the Dodgers or their fans. But maybe we can visit.
We’ll never not want to win the World Series. The World Series is the goal, even if five short, happy months after we finally win one, everybody will want another one. We’ll never be satisfied … ever, really. So we have to enjoy as many moments as we can until we get there. We can’t worry about them interfering with our chase. We can’t let celebrating the small mean that we don’t care about the big. Otherwise, you’re running on the edge of emptiness.
Value your children and your Kershaws, your siblings and your Seagers, for all their feats and their stumbles. Let’s let ourselves take our eyes off the horizon. It’ll still be there when we look up.