What Really Matters

I suppose as the world changes around me it is to be expected that the world inside me also changes. In fact, I just ran across a headline announcing the new director of Captain Marvel II and thought “were there any other Marvel movies coming out this year?” and then I thought “doesn’t really matter.”

“Doesn’t really matter.”

Those three words have been noticeably present of late in my inner vocabulary. Football season is another prime example. This is August 7th and usually, around this time, my thoughts have become captivated by the upcoming NFL season. Rams football, in particular. I’d have rosters all filled out and expectations all drawn up and, generally, I’ve planned my viewing. Morning game. Afternoon game. Night game. Monday game. Thursday game. Stuff I wanna buy for each victory.

I barely think about it. Doesn’t really matter.

Doesn’t really matter if there’s a football season this year. In fact, it might be best if there isn’t. Legions of men flying all around the country violating each other’s distance bubbles some 130 times a match? Sounds indulgent. Maybe even foolhardy. Especially if, in the scheme of things, it doesn’t really matter.

Or does it?

Do we need things like football to distract us from the raging pandemic, from the broken politics, from the rampant inequality in our society? Don’t we need a break from life?

Maybe the Avengers are important at a subliminal level to remind us what heroes really look like. To ensure us that, if only in our imaginations, leadership can possess morality. Threats can be identified – whether that threat be Thanos or Covid – and challenged through science or super-power. Maybe superheroes matter.

Maybe gladiators do, too. As nearly two dozen of them clash for us play after play, adorned in their armor on a patterned field of green, we get to express our emotions. Joy when the boys in blue advance the oval. Pain when the red ones cross the goal. Exasperation when the striped one steals an achievement. Dammit, ref.

Maybe football matters.

Quite possibly, though, it doesn’t. Quite possibly the critical term is the one I used 4 paragraphs up and 8 words in: distract. A pandemic isn’t a distraction, a cosmic titan is. The unnecessary death of a person because of the color of their skin isn’t a distraction, a Super Bowl is. The former in each is a real threat to all we hold dear, all we believe in, all we cherish and hope for in our lives and in the lives of others. The latter is fiction. The latter is pomp.

A distraction, in better times, is worthwhile. Pastimes have their place; they allow us to pass the time when time should be passed. These are not the best of times.

A global contagion has stolen our normal. An unfit charlatan dominates our airwaves. White supremacy is on the rise. Wealth inequality grows exponentially. Our climate is changing.

Is it possible to set aside the distractions? Is it healthy?

Can we live our lives like Captain America – or Don Quixote – tilting our shields and lances at windmill after windmill. Can we become crusaders for each and every cause? I shudder to think of a life so solemn.

But I shudder, as well, at a life of distraction. I cannot ignore what really matters, even if sometimes I need to escape. Escape to the four-color pages, the alternate realities, the thrill of entertainment. Escape.

Return.

If football resumes in 2020 – and I increasingly think that it should not – I will be a fan. I will reserve the time for each Rams game, of course, and I will rent or buy each good superhero film (from home) as I become aware of their release. But if there is no football and there are no superheroes…it doesn’t really matter. I am not a crusader for them.

I am a crusader for you. For Mrs C, for her mother, for Moxie, and Ludo, and Marvel. For my neighbors and all my best of friends. For my family, for my coworkers and employers, who are indeed family to me, as well. I am a crusader for those afflicted by plague – sick with virus or sick with worry – and for those who are victims of systemic, societal racism. That matters. What really matters is the inequality we face in criminal capitalism – how so few have so much and so many have so little. What really matters is that we are burning our world down.

When I see a person kneel on a sports field to bring awareness to injustice, I see a hero. When I see someone stand up to a president who denies the science of the moment, I see a hero. Real life ones, battling the ugliness of society the way Captain America battles Hydra. I want to be that brave.

All I have, most days, are my words. I bring them to you in the only way I can. I try to shine a little light, and often a little levity, on the things that I see. I try to keep it real, keep it sanguine.

I am sanguine. I am optimistic. I am progressive-minded and the long arc of history tends towards progress. As a snapshot of history these are the best of times. The worst, for sure, that you and I have seen, but our forebears endured worse. Much, much worse.

I know we will defeat the villains of today. Coronavirus. Racism. Inequality. Global Warming. Donald Trump. Some as soon as November, some in the year to follow, some in the decades to come. This is just a moment in time. A passage in history. Our trial.

If I don’t see a football season or a Marvel movie in the months to come, it doesn’t really matter.

I would rather see you flourish, free of spirit and of mind, healthy in body and in heart, as we endure this trial together.

That’s what really matters, to me.

22 thoughts on “What Really Matters

  1. Even crusaders need things that bring them serenity, especially if they intend to go on crusading. You’re one of the good ones, Tom, and that is really all any of us can do, outside of our votes, to facilitate change and to keep some semblance of hope alive: strive to be one of the good ones. All of these issues coming to a head are extremely vital, of course, but so is enjoyment of life. If our lives don’t bring us some peace, some joy, some laughter, then what’s the point? That, in fact, is the very thing we’re fighting for — the right of every single person to have the opportunity to enjoy life.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. You’re right, of course, and I am happy to have the distraction, most days. I doubt I could ever live my life tilting at windmills. But I was struck on Thursday morning when I found myself unconcerned about viewing the things that, just a year ago, meant (seemingly) everything to me. But if I’m being completely honest, intellectually, I’d have to say that for nearly two years, the mundane (work, home) has meant more to me than the extraordinary (superheroes, football), so maybe I’m just aging up. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  2. If you haven’t read Don Quixote all the way through be forewarned that what’s about to come is a spoiler. In the very end–specifically on his deathbed–the venerable Don has a sudden moment of clarity. He’s horrified at what he’s done, including a brief attempt to become a shepherd after giving up the knighthood, and apologizes. And he made a lot of mistakes, but he also did some good. His pal Sancho might never have left La Mancha but at one point becomes governor of a small town and even though it’s part of an elaborate prank played by some royals Sancho turns out to be a pretty good leader.
    It’s a puzzling and kind of depressing ending that suggests that good intentions aren’t enough, but my own takeaway is that we all stumble through the world with our own, for lack of a better word, delusions, but it’s better to at least try to make the world a better place.
    So anyway, hey, go Rams! We need things that make us happy because those are the reason we work to make the world a better place.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have not read the book (or if I did it was so long ago now that the memory cannot recollect) but I think that’s as good a moral as any. I suppose, in the end, we’ll all have our regrets no matter how well our intentions.

      The first three words of my long-standing personal mission statement (which needs some updating, I’m sure) are “Delight in life.” Is that a quest that can be sought in any era? In a warming world? During a pandemic? Is my foremost desire to enjoy every day truly the biggest windmill of them all?

      I suppose I am still embarking upon the ever-present mission to understand me, after all. Well, then, if a philosophical quest is what’s up next, a philosophical quest it shall be. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I generally sit down, almost once a week, and throw something down on WP and see if anything sticks, but last week nothing was sticking. So, about mid-week, I started to ask Tom “why?”.

      My first answer was that I’m tired of repeating myself, but I realized that wasn’t true. My next answer was that my head was in the sand – that I’m in an intellectual bubble until this all passes – but that wasn’t true, either. The startling and miserable truth became “it doesn’t matter.” I can accept a lot of things in life, but I will never accept that it doesn’t matter. It does. It all does. And, dammit, I’m gonna talk about it and repeat myself until everyone inside and outside of me listens. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s a double edged sword. Distractions are a welcome respite, but not at the expense of what is going on politically. No happy pills to mask the reality, thank you. Otherwise we will need them much longer than necessary. Perish that thought!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Indeed! Steve, I get lost in the thick of it sometimes, fall down the rabbit hole, and find answers to questions I didn’t even know I had. This is a time of great reflection, from the moment we made the big mistake in 2016 to the very moment the man-who-would-be-king signed an end around Congress yesterday. And every moment in-between. I have been banging my head against the wall around those I love – those who have sold their humanity to a conman – with hardly a crack, and it gets to me. It really does. I could use a football season.

      But at what cost? The only victory that really matters now is the one in November. Until we straighten out this mess, it’s hard to think what else matters. Is that overthinking? Am I obsessing?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah, you are. But you are also entitled. I would fall down that hole myself if I dwelled on it too much. All I can do is try to avoid watching the news every single day, know that the shit storm is going to get more intense with each passing day, and hope like hell that the electorate wake up and stand in line for however long it takes come November to evict that imbecile and his enablers

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I appreciate the honest answer! I may have to take a break from all this thinking, but I’ll wait until after the election. People not thinking is what got us into this mess. 😉

        Like

  4. No, it doesn’t matter, but then again, nothing does.

    Therefore, distractions, diversions are the key. Life at the philosophical valence shell of n cannot be maintained. For the absolute knowledge that the final act Villain will not be beaten—must not consume you. The Void will have his meal; denying him, for even a second, our collective goal.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Everything matters. Nothing matters. I woke up to these competing ideas right here in my comments section. What’s real? What’s true? Both. I lean towards “everything matters” personally, but I am sanguine. In the final analysis, as you succinctly and wisely profess, is that all things lead to entropy. In the long run, nothing matters. In our lives though, every day, everything does.

      Distraction is the key.

      Too early for a beer?

      Liked by 1 person

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