Sunday, November 15, 2009

Gage-ing GrammaB's Parenting

In our family, legend has it that I played the 1982 Vermont high school soccer playoffs with "a broken back" as my 8th seeded Eagles swept through the playoffs to earn a share of the championship title. I was the starting center fullback , a senior and a captain, providing speed and aggression amidst a pair of bookend beheamoths on a rough and tough defense. Three playoff games with three broken bones in my back -- that's how I tell it and I have a banner to show for it.

Two questions came out that adventure:
  1. Wait, you mean the championship game ended in a tie?
  2. Wait, your mother let you play with a broken back?
Yep, back then, there was no provision for a 3rd OT or for shootouts. 2-2 after 2OT? Game over. Tie. Two DII champions. Two championship banners. Sure, they say a tie is like kissing your sister, but in this case, it was more like kissing a hot friend of your sister ... ;-)

Now, thanks to Justin Gage of the NFL's Titans, folks can understand the answer to #2, too.

The Titans WR will miss the next few weeks of the NFL season "after sustaining multiple fractures to transverse process bones in his back," an injury suffered while making a game-winning touchdown catch. Gage's doctor says the player has no risk of paralysis, as the breaks are in the small bones that eminate away from the vertebrae, not in the spinal column itself. The issue is pain -- Gage just needs to heal up to the point where he can hande the pain.

My ears perked up when I heard the news -- that was my injury!

For years, listeners who suffered through the tale have called my momma's parenting into question. "She let you play? What was she thinking?" Neither of us have ever had much of a credible answer. "The doc essentially said I could play if I could handle the pain" has never carried much weight. Now, we can smile and say, "Hey, it was just like Justin Gage." She's been vindicated!!

Gage has chosen to sit out to heal as the Titans are faaaar from contention. He says he'll take comfort in it because he loves his catch. I chose to play through it because of our quest for that championship. It cost me my senior year of basketball. Playing meant I had to spend the winter healing in a brace to be sure I would be ready to take my place at 2nd base for the Eagles in the spring. Looking back, I wouldn't change a thing.

Here's a wish of "all the best" to Gage as he heals. I look foward to adding him to my fantasy team when he's ready to go again. We "transverse process bone fracture" types have to have each other's backs!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Violence Isn't What She Seems

A friend from before and ago recently bemoaned, "Why all the f'ing violence?????" when faced with the horrors in Fort Hood, in Orlando, in Cleveland, and -- tragically -- elsewhere ...

It made me pause. Why, indeed. Why violence ... And the voice inside my head whispered:

"Violence is a malicious temptress, seductively posing as an easy way out -- when she's faaar too often nothing more than the pathetic path to tragic failure." -- jonathan billings

Hmmm. There may be something there. And yet we flirt with the temptress ...

Controlled violence offers a powerful adrenaline-lace elixer. Certainly, there's an attraction there that stirs something within the soul ... Crashing through a striker, despite your own injuries, to preserve a championship season? Burying a shoulder in a catcher's chest to knock the ball free and score the winning run? Whacking a goalie's helmet with a lacrosse stick to allow a replacement to take the field and score the first goal of her career? Magical violent athletic moments purmeate my family's tales of lore ... legends we tell with prideful lust and cackling glee ...

It's true off the field as well ... Want one of the chickens for dinner? I'll kill it if you pluck it. Is there anything as mindlessly entertaining on a sleepy Saturday afternoon than a bit of dismembering in a monster movie? A favorite Bible verse advises that s if your hand is your problem, cut if off ...

Okay, it didn't take much self-reflection to find I may have a bit of a taste for violence ... Hell, I don't know how often I've wanted to whack someone with a bat because of their perplexing behavior. But I've always stopped short of swinging that Louisville Slugger.

Why is that? What of those who don't? What of the uncontrolled violence?

A US army soldier/psychiatrist headed to Iraq murders a dozen bretheren and wounds dozens others, crimes now attributed to people disrespecting his Muslim faith? A sociopath sex criminal kills a dozen women and keeps their bodies? An aspiring engineer fired for poor performance returns to his former employer and slays one and shoots five others saying the company had interfered with is unemployment check.

Damn. Three horrifying examples in three days -- enough to drive my friend to despair and wonder aloud, "Why all the f'ing violence?"

What gives one the ability to dance in the glory of controlled violence while another spirals into the abyss of uncontrolled violence? How is it that most of us develop the coping skills necessary to resist the seduction of senseless violence, and a few do not? Why do so many have the grace to chose a harder path in pursuit of a non-violent solution to our own problems, and a few do not?

It saddens me when I think about it.

Why? I've never given any credibility to what I see as feeble excuses -- television made me do it; the song lyrics told me to; it's how my people do things ... Nah, take some personal responsibility for your actions ...

... and yet, sadly ...

Long before I can make any sense of it all ... Long before I can differentiate between "self defense with reasonable force" and "proactive self preservation in a kill-or-be-killed world" ... Long before I can come to grips with "there but for the grace of God go I" ... Long before any produtive or insightful thought, I get distracted and wander off to something else ...

And the world lurches violently onward ...