Sunday, July 19, 2009

A pitch for inconsequence

"Men are so strange," said my wife, as Barack Obama made the ceremonial first pitch before the All-Star Game.

She was remarking on the fact that Obama, so as not to shame himself by winging it up into the stands, had taken a few practice pitches in a subterranean batting cage.

"Why would men worry so much about making a good throw?" she said.

Because we are men. Just as we are prone to jump to touch the awning above us on the walkway, we do it because it is there.

Her befuddlement was about the pointlessness of practicing for a ceremonial pitch. All I can say is: Women do pointless things, too.

All defensiveness aside, seeing this guy with a world on his shoulders — seeing the child-like bounce in his step because he'd taken in a ball game — made me think: I need to do more pointless things.

I need to go to more ball games. I need to examine sunsets and storm fronts more closely. I need to spend more time with my dogs.

You, too.

Thinking of how we live our lives, I'm reminded of a man who once was struck by lightning.

When he realized he was alive, the first thing he had to do was instruct himself to breathe.

How many of us need instructions these days?

We are so, so busy. In our down time, we are so sapped that we just want to zone out.

Hence, the difference between doing nothing and doing something that, though utterly pointless, is exceedingly rewarding.

The Internet is full of important things. But mostly it is nothing.

Television is swarming with important things. But like the airwaves themselves, it is mostly nothing.

Then there's baseball. Do you know the sweet thing about baseball? It's all the nothing that connects the consequence on the field.

But it's a different kind of nothing. It's the kind that, at the ballpark, causes you to remark on the shade of the grass or the sky. Or the smells from the concession stands. Or the cavalcade of ball caps around you.

At the ballpark the flag isn't a ceremonial object. It's a wind gauge.

At the ballpark you are all business one moment — who knows when that foul ball might come your way? And then at glorious ease.

What's the difference between sitting in front of the tube and sitting on your porch?

The big difference: Television will not abide nothingness. Dead air is the cardinal sin.

On your porch, air is the main event. And it's alive.

I've got to breathe in more of that.

I've got to spend more time with my dogs and figure out what excites them so.

With them it's always an episode of the "X-Files." Something is out there. Can't you hear it? Can't you smell it?

I can't right now, but I can try.

Yes, I've got to do more things that make absolutely no sense, except as they reward my senses. I think that's what we have them for.

Now, where did I put that baseball glove?

John Young writes for the Waco Tribune-Herald.

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