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Sunday, March 25, 2012

When Cubs Lose

2000 miles, we flew.

2000 miles to watch the Chicago Cubs lose three games in classic Chicago Cubs style.

Ugly baseball. Sloppy, busch league mistakes. The regular season hasn't even started and Cubs fans were already chanting "WAIT 'TILL NEXT YEAR!"

But Chicago Cubs baseball isn't about baseball. At least not on this trip.

In somewhat of a semi-annual event, I've met family to watch the lovable losers drop one meaningless spring training game after another while we sit in the stands soaking up the Arizona sun and foamy cups of overpriced beer.

We gamble dollar bills on dropped fly balls.

We burn through boxes of cigars.

We suffer cramps from laughing.

5 Bertauskis.

And we leave on Sunday, boarding planes that fly in different directions, anxious for the next trip and remembering next year, ALWAYS NEXT YEAR, we could be world champs.

But my father and uncle are near 70. My brother and I near 40. My cousin, 33.

How many next years are there?

It doesn't matter. Cubs baseball isn't about winning. It's about everything else.

Can't wait 'till next year.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

29029 Feet of Pain

Mt. Everest. The highest point in the world. And people climb it. They lose fingers and toes, spend days without sleep and an oxygen-deprived brain. Why?

George Mallory once gave a succinct answer. "Because it's there."

That doesn't do it for me.

No one ever described Everest as "fun".

I live a life of relative comfort. House, wife, kids, dogs, cars, food. Toothache, I got a dentist. Stomachache, I got CVS. Boredom, I got Netflix.

Somewhere along the way, though, there can be an underlying sense of wanting... more. That there's got to be more to life than living the dream. There's got to be more to it than house-wife-food. And so begins the search. Be it spiritual or otherwise, an attempt to get more meaning.

Great teachers have many quotes that capture the folly of our struggle. Occasionally, one will pop into mind when the time is right. When I read about some crazy bastard climbing 29029' into the sky, I remembered one such quote.

Your life is not about you. 

Maybe there's some sense to these mountain climbers. Maybe it's their search. There's a purpose to allowing discomfort in order to seek higher meaning. How good and comfortable and yummy something feels should not necessarily be our compass. Peace, joy, and virtue can reside in the pain and suffering as well as rapture.

Many have said that the truth can be found at home, at centers of worship, in the garden. Can be found 29029' in the air. Some claim the truth is elusive, that it might be easier to find on top the mountain than our everyday life. Nonetheless, it's there. Always there.

I hope so. Because I'm not climbing Everest.