Monday, 30 November 2009

End of an Era

Where they lacked in talent, they made up in character.  This was always the least I could say about my Raptors, but no longer.  Between Antoine Wright's public criticism of the Raptors' pre-game attitude to their lack of toughness, as far as character goes, what's to be proud of?  On a team with a losing record, pride should have been the minimum.

I can now finally say that I am no longer a fan of the Raptors.  So long as there was effort, there was a reason for me to have hope.  Effort means that steps - be they even tiny ones - are being taken, and that time is meaningful.  Time would come to show the fruits of their labours.  Time.  Time is what I don't want to lose.

It's the end of an era.  Time to move on.

Monday, 23 November 2009

Misguided

Fake it till you make it! A mantra from our high school instructor.  It was a reference to the strange behaviour of the atom.  You may not understand what's going on in the conventional sense, but you're in good company.  You have equations that work - use them.

It takes a lot of faith to fake it till you make it.  It's a blind guiding principle.  You have to either be ignorant or really trust the people who are telling you what to do.

Fake it till you make it! he preached, but not even he made it.  I don't think that some things ever become clearer.  Can you live with yourself knowing that your action was based on blind faith or that your inaction was the debilitating consequence of your skepticism?  The answer really depends on what you prefer: memories of things that you did or a clear conscience, knowing that you were cognizant of the consequences every step of the way.  There is a middle-ground, I know, but each particular decision seems to be an either/or.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Replacement

I miss Misfortunate, but I'm sure that a lot of it is because I'm remembering only the good parts.  But because I'm aware that I do this, I know that it wasn't perfect.  I miss the good parts.  I will always miss the good parts of anything - memories, foods, etc...  This is not to be confused with wishing that I could have it back.  I would never dare say that.

The question came up - even if not intended the way I'd taken it - of whether or not I would be looking to replace Misfortunate.  The prospect never even crossed my mind and now that it has, I realized that the answer is no, I wouldn't.  It is what it is.  I miss it out of a respect for the best of it, but I can't recreate it, and I'm not looking to replace it.  The truth is: I half-lie to myself to justify having invested so much time in it and I'm certain that upon careful and objective examination, I could shatter this happy image of it that I keep in my mind.

There may yet be better fits for me or there may not be, but either way, I will be open to and seize at whatever opportunities come my way.  That's the only way to live.

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Competing

Forgive me for I have sinned.  It has been 1 year and 1 month since I last dyed my hair.  But today, I had it all dyed evenly black.  Yes, I had dyed it black the last time (1 year and 1 month ago), but it has been fading ever since.  In fact, it had faded within a month - the blond streaks have been peeking through as brown slash red "highlights" to the faded black hair for over a year.  My natural hair colour is a cross between black and really dark brown, so the outgrowth with the fading black hair dye has looked natural.  And it's not that I disliked it that I dyed it.  It really, quite simply, was the unevenness of the colour.  As I mentioned in Neuroses, unevenness makes me crazy.  And even though I hate spending money and fear that an investment in my looks reflects insecurity, I knew that it would be really satisfying when I finally treated myself to making my hair colour uniform.  Oh, I was right.  It is substantially better than going on any of the vacations I've dreamt up but never got to take (partly for the evenness issue, but actually also because of the cost).

It is always difficult when you have a decision to make, and competing convictions apply.  Our action/inaction reflects our confusion.  (I waited 1 year and 1 month before making myself look neat.)  Hopefully, in the end, we will have represented ourselves and our confusion honestly.   That is all we can aim for.

Raptors

I am a die-hard Raptor fan.  I have been since 2002 - the first year that I ever attentively watched NBA basketball.

The only reason that I did when I did was because it was the first year that it didn't interfere with school.  High school and elementary school terms don't end until June, so I always missed NBA Playoffs.  May 2002 marked the end of my first year of university.  I didn't have any summer courses so I was free after my last exam.  (I still distinctly remember the exams I had to write at the end of that term.  One was a philosophy course on Nietzsche and Kierkegaard, and I wrote it in Varsity Stadium.  The others were for PHY140Y1Y, MAT157Y1Y and MAT240H1S.)

That year, I got all caught up in the Raptors' greatest win streak.  It was led by Antonio Davis.  This drive to the playoffs changed my life forever.  We had lost Carter to a knee injury just prior to the All-Star break.  We went into that break well over 500, and came back to lose 12 straight games.  It was looking hopeless until Davis, as our Co-Captain, led the team to win 12 of the next 14, putting us in 7th place in the East going into playoffs against Jerry Stackhouse and the Pistons.

We were to face Ben and Jerry without Carter. We did a decent job.  I still remember the dying seconds of the final game.  Down by 3 with 10 seconds left on the clock, Chris Childs hurriedly dribbled the ball up the court and just as he crossed the timeline, blind to the wide-open better 3-point shooter in Dell Curry, he threw up a wild half-court shot that had no chance of making it ... so it wasn't surprising when it didn't make it.  We lost our possession.  Detroit had the ball.  The clock ran out.  It was over.  Raptors lose.  Raptors lose.  Raptors lose.

There were a lot of reasons why I fell in love with them when I did besides the timing.  I loved the roster.  The hearts of Antonio Davis, Alvin Williams, MoPete (Morris Peterson), and JYD (Jerome Williams) won me over.  JYD cheered like a fan from the bench.  Alvin put it all on the floor every night and was solid.  I'm happy knowing that these two are back and part of the organization.

The subsequent years saw some of the worst NBA play, team losses due to injury, win records and trades, but there was always effort.  Where they lacked in talent, they made up in character.  Some say that moral wins don't count, but I say they do.  I need to.  I've always felt as though Raptors' ball was an analogy for my life.

Monday, 2 November 2009

Appreciation

I went to a Catholic High School that had a dress code, and uniforms.  A lot of the time, I wasn't even in class, and so I rarely wore that uniform.  My high involvement in extra-curricular activities put me outside of the classroom for a good percentage of the time, and the general awareness of my activities by the faculty meant that I was rarely bothered about not being in uniform.  It was generally assumed that I had a good reason, or so I imagine this was the case.  I was nearly never questioned about it, but then I didn't, after all, take advantage of this trust.

Anyway, in the eleventh grade, the same unpopular peer of mine that I referred to in Reasons often complained to me about how he should have been granted special privileges, such as not wearing the complete uniform all the time, or being late, or generally being an insolent teenager.  His argument was that he had earned it: all of his hard work in the extra-curriculars (we had rallied to bring one that had been canceled back into existence), and his high grades from class warranted his exemption from the rules.  (I can't help but wonder if there's any way of bypassing this juvenile attitude, or if we're all condemned to adopt it until we grow out of it.)

It's hard to know what will garner thanks and praise, and even what sort of appreciation is appropriate.  One thing that is for certain is that it cannot be the goal.  Recognition is just a bonus.

At work, I try to provide good customer service, meet my goals, complete my tasks on a daily basis, but it is always a pleasant surprise when a colleague gives me something to show appreciation.  My co-worker gave me a gift the other day - a bottle of red wine.  A gift was the last thing I expected.  After the last couple weeks I've had, it made me really happy to know that at least one person genuinely appreciated my effort and cared enough to show me.

Rationalizations

I never knew patience.  I wasn't raised to [deferring of accountability by blaming parents - check!].  So now as an adult, I find it exceedingly difficult to do anything with consistency.  Patience is a prerequisite for success that I failed.

My work, study, eating, workout and social habits were built on indulging.  I worked, studied, ate, worked-out and socialized until I dropped!  Graphically, if I had compiled historical data and I could plot my effort as a function of time, we would see the recurrence of the following pattern: short periods of nothing, quick (accelerating/decelerating) rises that settle for months at plateaus, then sudden drops back to zero.

I'm hoping that calling myself out on it publicly will help me fix it.  A lot of wheels in motion!  The worst thing for me to do now is lose momentum.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Reasons

In thinking more about people who disappear from our lives and leave us hanging, I recalled a conversation that I had had back in twelfth grade with an unpopular peer of mine.  He was complaining about how others had left him hanging for what he deemed "no good reason".  He hypothesized that it was because they preferred to "be cool", and went on to say that this was why they partook in substance abuse, or didn't do their homework.  His conclusion was that he should feel vindicated in their lack of success due to substance abuse, but didn't because they discarded his friendship in favour of "being cool". 

There were just too many things wrong with his reasoning, but I decided to stick with only one when I replied with "Is it just so inconceivable to you that perhaps they had other reasons, ones that you don't understand?"  There are so just many roads to becoming an addict of the self-destructive sort.  How dare he be so selfish as to think that he was one.

The truth is we can be so inclined sometimes to be selfish and think that we are the cause of someone's behaviour, neglecting the existence of the real possibility that often has a non-zero probability that it has nothing to do with us.  We sometimes just don't know the whole story, and with our limited resources, we can make a selfish guess.  The irony is that we demean ourselves when we do this.  We have to remember: we are not at the centre of the universe.
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