The Best of the Best (Ten today)


July 30, 2016
 

We are in Carlsbad, parked in a cool-shady spot near the beach, car lounging before the next game. The slogan of this soccer tournament boasts that only the best of the best walk through the gates to compete on their well-groomed fields. My daughter and her teammates deserve to be here…on some days. When they want to–her included—they are unstoppable. When they don’t, they’re not. 17 year olds are like that, I guess. They can taste freedom to make their own mistakes just at the other end of the table.
 
This daughter, like her older sister, I know so well and don’t know at all. Her cynical, critical eye is inherited. Her sensed, inarticulable experience of the world is inherited. Her logic, forethought, anxiety and perfectionism are inherited too. She’s more outer driven, while I’m more inner. I want to live up to my own standards. She needs a watcher, a fan and a stern stick behind her.
 
But I respect her. She knows what she wants, I trust, and will have to figure out from where her limitations come should she decide to exceed and conquer them. I give her words and a model. And while my older daughter allowed me to help her, push her to push herself, this one never has–not in the same way. They’re a study in people hood. How humans fulfill their cellular and cultural destinies–endlessly fascinating, the best of the best.

Game 

zero-sum

Your move. Now mine.

Yours, mine, yours,

we play politics, soccer and love.

Games of words and alignments under-girded by

luck, skill, wiles, wit and speed, overlaid intention,

drawing a letter, or a trip and cheat,

fallen, kicked and stalled, all tactics:

dive, grimace and grovel.

End goal?

Save, fail, score, win, promote, chest-bang, leave, shout,

cry out your props, boost your stature, grow tall and shiny or

make other plans; just so you know

might makes right

might makes right

might makes right.

You’re damned right.

No one ever won quietly fostering

connections and alliances, powerful

listening before empathetic action.

Subtlety, often like soccer games, ends

scoreless, some zero game.

 

Image: zero sum portent

Soccer College Showcase in Vegas

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The sun and wind, whistles and screams.
The engine roar of passing planes muted by vast, absorbent sky and grass,
dirt and plastic.
Baby chuckles and exasperated sighs,
“Oh God” and the like,
reactions to the terror of play,
a mother’s fear,
a father’s glory.
And the ice cream jingle floats atop the astro-turf swelter,
a complementary note to children at work.
The song sings of promises and earned rewards:
ice pop, pat on the back, handshake and a wink,
and maybe a letter, informing

“We accept your excellence this day,
this very warm, breezy winter day on the playground of risk and fortune.”