Thursday, March 13, 2014

Beyond the hazy mind to the other side of YOLO

I actually hate the phrase "YOLO" because most of those who aspire to live by this so-called "life altering motto" do so not because they truly recognize the fragility of life, but because they want an excuse to act without thought or concern for how those actions affect not just themselves but everyone around them. It has essentially become their excuse to live a life of debauchery without guilt.

While I do not pretend to have all the answers about life and what follows, the reality is that, God or not, we are all judged at death.

And that is the other side of the "you only live once" motto; you also only die once. That's right; YODO.

Everything that leads to that moment is judged. Don't believe in God? You'll still be judged.

Personally, I believe in God; and I am awful at living my life as a testament to His existence; but that does not mean I do not believe; only that my faith is not strong enough.

For a moment, though, let's look at how YODO affects the person who does not believe in God. As an American citizen who fully supports the right to freedom of religion, I believe this right extends to lack of religion. Even the most agnostic of people, though, believes that their actions have an impact.

That impact has a cosmic sense. If the universe is indeed just one big cosmic accident of ever expanding time and space, then we are all composed of the same matter and material. At our must fundamental core, we are all the remnants of an ancient piece of cosmic dust. That means that we are all tied together. If we are all tied together, my actions have a direct impact on yours.

More importantly, that cosmic dust is left behind when our bodies decompose into the dust and become the blowing dust of our planet.

This is all pretty weird to talk about. But when we are returned to dust and become the dust of a universe again, our dust is left blowing around and it then becomes part of the world at large.

Don't believe we are judged at death without a God? Read a newspaper. Everyone is judged. Sometimes that judgement is that we are nothing more than a blot of ant guts in the history of the world. So all that bluster about living once becomes  a moot point. If your impact is nothingness; or worse. And, when you are nothingness, did you really live? When you are remembered as the worst sort of human to exist, did you really live?

in some ways, we can get caught up in the other side of that equation. So caught up in being "remembered" that we neglect what is truly important. I think that happens to many of us at different times in our lives.

The last four months have been somewhat of a blur. Over the past few years, I have made a lot of friends through football. Or so I thought.

You see, I have always been one to say some things that not everyone can appreciate. nonetheless, to my friends, I have been someone always loyal; always helping where I am able. As time passed, however, I discovered that I had not really made as many friends as I believed.

It was a harsh lesson; a lesson I was not ready for. In some ways, this is my own fault; I have let myself be scattered around to so many interests, that there was not as much time for truly developing deep relationships with friends. They were all cordial, but they were also fairly superficial.

I know that this little website started to get a different point across about a recruit who is now off to the NFL; that is how long it has been. I know that most of the people who have read my blog could care less about my personal philosophical ramblings.

And, you know what, I understand that. I wouldn't either. You came to read about football. And, because my introduction to the world was as a writer of a positive side, it was predictable that anything negative I wrote would end very badly. Objective was okay, so long as it was objectively positive.

And, you see, that is where I went wrong. I began to have delusions about what it is I really do. I was working so hard for affirmation that I forgot who I was. Journalist? Please. I just wrote fancentric articles. When I tried to cross over, it simply flopped like a deflated balloon in the wind.


Was the stuff I said untrue? No. Every word was true.

Were sources invented? No. The people that were my sources were real. I chose not to name them to protect not just the source, but the source of the source. That's right, there were others who could have verified the stories I wrote, but that would have compromised their position with the sources as well.

It is this that really caused a sore spot in my own mind. I felt betrayed, even though I knew that these people could do nothing to help.

Sometimes we don't even noticed that we have become enraptured with acclaim and praise. As we work through our daily life, we simply do the things that we have done; without self-reflection about what is happening, we simply continue like drones; robots trudging our way through the day.

That's what I was doing with writing.

While I am self reflective in many aspects of life, writing had become some sort of drug; a method of self-validation that was generated through the validation of others.

And the validation would continue; but only as long as I could write enough positive and avoid the negative. I was not a writer; I was an entertainer. But I had fooled myself into thinking some pretty grandiose stuff about what I was doing. Compared myself to an abstract artist.

How ridiculous is that? Abstract art? I am not Faulkner. I am not Tolstoy. I write about college football and recruiting for a fan website. There is nothing wrong with that task. There is demand for this kind of writing. But it became time to stop fooling myself and buying into self-created delusions of grandeur.

Yes. I have learned some lessons the hard way. Demand? Outside of a small audience, there is no demand for my trifling ramblings. And, you know what, that is okay.

Hard is his calling in life, and bitterly he feels his solitude.


Monday, February 10, 2014

Remnants of a disoriented muse



I was reading through Gogol's Dead Souls and, upon reading the beginning of chapter 7, I came across a paragraph that really made my mind work furiously at recognizing the remnants of a muse lost. This reads like the last two years of my writing life. 

In the beginning:


Happy is the writer who without dwelling too long on tedious and repulsive characters, which impress us by their distressful reality, feels drawn to characters which reveal the high dignity of man, the writer who from the great whirlpool of human figures that pass daily before his mind’s eyes selects only the few exceptions, who has never once been untrue to the major key of his lyre, who has never descended from his pinnacle to his poor, insignificant fellow creatures and, without touching the earth, has immersed himself completely in his own exalted images that are so far removed from it. His rare lot is doubly to be envied: he is among them as among his own family and yet his fame spreads far and wide. He clouds men’s eyes with enchanting incense; he flatters them marvelously, concealing the sad facts of life and showing them the noble man, Applauding, all run after him, all rush after his triumphal chariot. They call him great, universal poet, soaring high above all other geniuses of the world as an eagle soars over the other high-flying birds. Young, ardent hearts are thrilled at his very name; responsive tears gleam in every eye. He has no equal in power—he is a god.

That last line is telling. Now, I am not going to say I had personally risen to that level. that would be an absurd statement. I write some small time stuff. It is trivial sports "stuff" for the most part which helps us all to pass the day, but at the end of those days, what I have written brings little substantive value. Nonetheless, acclaim of any sort can become enrapturing; and it can cloud the minds eye that was once so critical to what was written.

But then Gogol continued:


But quite different is the lot, quite different is the destiny of the writer who has dared to bring into the open everything that is every moment before men’s eyes and that remains unseen by their unobservant eyes – all the terrible, shocking morass of trivial things which our life is entangled, the whole depth of frigid, split-up, everyday characters with whom our often dreary and bitter earthly path swarms, and who dares with the strong power of his relentless chisel to display them boldly and in the round before the eyes of all! Not for him the applause of the people, not for him to behold the grateful tears and the unanimous rapture of the souls he has moved so deeply; no girl of sixteen flies to meet him with her head turned and full of heroic enthusiasm; he will not find oblivion in the sweet enchantment of the sounds he has himself evoked; and, lastly, he will not escape the judgment of his contemporaries, hypocritical and callous public opinion, which will brand his cherished creations as low and insignificant will allot him an ignoble place  in the ranks of writers who have affronted humanity, will attribute to him the qualities of the heroes he himself has created, will rob him of heart and soul and the divine fire of genius.

For contemporary public opinion does not acknowledge that the glasses through which suns are beheld and though which the movements of microscopic insects are studied are equally marvelous; for public opinion does not admit that great spiritual depth is required to illumine a picture drawn from ignoble life and transform it into a pearl of creation; for public opinion does not admit that lofty rapturous laughter is worthy to stand beside lofty lyrical emotion and that there is all the difference in the world between it and the antics of a clown at a fair. Public opinion does not admit that and it will turn everything into a reproach and a sneer against the unrecognized writer; without fellow feeling, without response, without sympathy, he is left standing alone in the middle of the road like a homeless wayfarer.

Hard is his calling in life, and bitterly he feels his solitude.

Sometimes we don't even noticed that we have become enraptured with acclaim and praise. As we work through our daily life, we simply do the things that we have done; without self-reflection about what is happening, we simply continue like drones; robots trudging our way through the day.

That's what I was doing with writing.

While I am self reflective in many aspects of life, writing had become some sort of drug; a method of self-validation that was generated through the validation of others.

And the validation would continue; but only as long as I could write enough positive and avoid the negative. I was not a writer; I was an entertainer. But I had fooled myself into thinking some pretty grandiose stuff about what I was doing. Compared myself to an abstract artist.

How ridiculous is that? Abstract art? I am not Faulkner. I am not Tolstoy. I write about college football and recruiting for a fan website. There is nothing wrong with that task. There is demand for this kind of writing. But it became time to stop fooling myself and buying into self-created delusions of grandeur.

A hard lesson was learned when I said some things that people did NOT want to hear.

I was praised in 2011 not because I uncovered some great mystery of life, but because I found a side of the story a target audience wanted to hear. Plain and simple. No brilliant prose. No incredible discovery. No earth shattering news. I said what you wanted to hear.

When I said some things that no one wanted to hear, I became the second half of the quotes.

This is no attack against what I have done  at any point; simply a realization that my delusions have had no basis in reality. I saw someone refer to me once as a "one-hit wonder." And, you know what? that's not even true. What I wrote that was a "hit" was nothing more than some nice fluffy pillows. It was inanity disguised as discernment.

Yes. I have learned some lessons the hard way. Demand? Outside of a small audience, there is no demand for my trifling ramblings. And, you know what, that is okay.

Hard is his calling in life, and bitterly he feels his solitude.


Friday, January 24, 2014

Cheerleader? Hardly

An interesting thought occurred to me today.

Two plus years ago, when I first wrote on this blog, certain "professional" media members said that my thoughts were not valid for several reasons most of which centered around the concept of my not having editors and my being too much of a "cheerleader" rather than an objective member of media.

Two plus years later, whenever I happen to say something not cheerleader enough, I get told by Duck fans that I am not a fan. What an interesting dilemma. I am now neither.

And, if Duck fans think I should be a cheerleader, sorry, I would look AWFUL in that uniform.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Win the day? Long gone

After the debacle in the desert, I had hoped that the leaders of the Oregon football team might figure out that they had begun to stray too far from the mentality that led to a 46-7 record over 4 seasons, including a 33-3 record in conference play.

Well, it looks like those days are gone forever. Mark Helfrich cannot grasp the concept; apparently.

Today, Kerry Eggers has a quote from Helfrich that says:

"It's more important this week for us to play better, for us to execute, to compete, to play our way."
Do you see that? The head coach of the University of Oregon has said that one game is more important than any other. And that is a problem. The moment you allow yourself to say that Game A is more important than Game B, you also allow yourself a different preparation mentality for each game. If Game B is less important, so too is the preparation for Game B.

As a power lifter, every single set I perform has to have the exact same set up, the exact same form; everything has to be the same. So when I am warming up, I approach the bar at 135 pounds the same as I do for 550 pounds; consistency is what makes greatness possible. Inconsistency breeds mediocrity.

Former Heisman front runner Marcus Mariota has joined the parade of players lending more weight to a rivalry game than other games telling Eggers:

"But no, in all honesty, talking around the community, this game does mean a lot," the sophomore quarterback from Honolulu said. "It means a lot to the state. It's an honor to be able to play in it. To be able to represent this community the best we can is what we're going to try to do."
Look, I love rivalries as a FAN... but that is who rivalries should be for; the fans. Media can talk about rivalries; fans can talk about them as well. The moment players begin to add special value to one game versus another, they begin to breed inconsistency.

The only game that matters more than any other game? Right now, it is the BCS title game. Next season it is that first playoff game, followed by the second playoff game.

After reading the talk about this week's Civil War, I am more convinced than ever that Mark Helfrich has abandoned the Win The Day mentality where each game was "the Super Bowl."

I doubt that translates to a loss this coming Friday; but it does not necessarily bode well for the future.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

There is no armour to have chinks

Today's game, while it had plenty of execution errors that lay at the feet of the players, was not about the players. It was about coaching.

Right now, Mark Helfrich looks to be in way over his head.

When you have a Ferrari, and give the keys to someone who has never driven a car before, you probably ought to expect a car wreck.

The last three games have been exactly that; a car wreck.

After the Stanford loss, I said that the practices this year have lacked the discipline of previous years. I heard that from someone who would absolutely know and it shows on the field.

This team is acting without discipline at just about every turn. Players are talking out of turn; coaches are talking about things that were not talked about under Chip Kelly.

Mark Helfrich looks like a deer in the headlights. He is trying to be Chip Kelly in the interview room, but seems to be going through the mimicking motions on game day. The flow of the offense is clearly different as they have, pretty much, abandoned the run first attitude of the Oregon offense.

There was a lot of talk about the "Oregon Way" earlier this season when an unnamed defender put notice to Thomas Tyner that he was just another cog in the wheel and not a superstar. Unfortunately, there are signs that the Oregon Way has been lost in translation this season.

The Oregon Way is not about telling players not to be superstars; it is about an ever present overpowering focus on every detail. Kelly reeled in players that talked out of turn. And Kelly made the "Win The Day" mentality a daily approach to everything this team did on and off the field. Every game was the Super Bowl.

Helfrich has abandoned this as well. Well, maybe Helfrich hasn't in his own mind, but he HAS allowed his team to abandon this mindset. We have heard coaches talk about rivalries and revenge. We have herd players talk about being disappointed in the Rose Bowl, apparently forgetting that a Rose Bowl berth means the team has WON a conference title.

To be fair, I understand the thoughts that Josh Huff and De'Anthony Thomas were trying to convey; in a season where the team (and fans) truly believed that they were headed back to the National Championship Game, losing out on that opportunity IS disappointing. The difference is that under Kelly, no one would have talked about the title game in the first place.

Helfrich has allowed the team to soften in their approach to many things. And that has followed on to the field.

Can the problems be fixed? Yes. But it's going to take a little bit of personality transplant from the staff.

The Pac-12 has had a tremendous influx of coaching talent in the past couple of seasons and the rest of the conference is starting to catch up to the Ducks. If Oregon wants to continue to be a factor in the national title discussion every year, the coaches are going to have to up the ante on themselves.

Win the day? These coaches need to win the off-season. Otherwise, Oregon could find themselves in the same territory as Washington within a year... perennial bowl team which is not a factor in the conference title race.


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