The Beautiful Game
Four days into the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and I’ve watched every match, but I’m feeling a little burned out. The problem is I’ve been staying up too late and then getting up too early (first game has been kicking off around 5:30 AM here). But it only comes around every four years, so I’m going to stay the course. As for my assessment thus far, I’d say Argentina looks like they will be pretty good once they get dialed in a little better, Germany already looks awesome, and Italy looks like shit. I’m curious to see how Brazil and Spain look. The USA/England game was a lot of fun. I wish the USA had won, but I’ll live with a draw. They pretty much need to win the next two games, though.
These first games of the finals can be pretty boring, because many teams tend to play not to lose. Once the next round of games come around, more and more sides are forced into must-win situations, so the intensity goes up. I’m looking forward to that.
Intrepid Adventurer Rescued
I was following the story of Abby Sunderland, the 16 yo girl who was attempting to sail around the world before contact was lost with her. I was happy to see that she was found and ultimately rescued. The article I linked raises some good questions about whether she should have even been out on the ocean in the first place, never mind that she was alone. For example, this particular passage:
One commentator on the Los Angeles Times website summed up the view of many: “Abby Sunderland was on the wrong type of boat (a racing yacht) in the wrong location (the southern Indian Ocean) at the wrong time of year (winter in the southern hemisphere). Other than those minor details it was a well-planned voyage.”
That comment is weighed with more than a little sarcasm, I’d say. So besides the question about whether her parents were being irresponsible in allowing her the attempt, there is also the question of the cost and risk involved in the rescue. Who picks up those charges? One would think the people responsible in the first place — Abby’s parents — would have to foot the bill. I imagine that if they can afford a yacht like that for such an adventure, picking up the rescue tab isn’t such a big deal, though in this article, which also discusses the possibility of a reality show and book, Abby’s father claims to be broke.
I can see both sides of the argument. What it comes down to for me is admiration — I admire Abby’s attempt, and I admire that she wasn’t cowed by the fear she no doubt faced stranded at sea. The older I get, the more I realize how much of life is wasted by doing things that really aren’t adventurous at all. There’s nothing exciting about doing the day in, day out of work, scrambling to make payments on this and that, and all the other trappings we get lured into that are supposedly elements of building a “successful” life. Hell, I sure can’t picture my kid taking off solo around the world; I can’t picture myself doing that. One thing I do know is I sure do need a little more adventure in my life, that’s for goddamn sure. Taking support calls and making pathetic attempts at writing novels no one will ever read ain’t going to do the job for me without it.
Conquerors of the Useless
I’ve been thinking about a lot of this stuff ever since this great movie that Julia and I watched when we were in Portland, called 180 Degrees South. Here’s the trailer:
During the movie, Yvon Chouinard is talking about adventures. He talks about these CEO types who climb Everest; the route is pre-prepared for them, they have teams of people to haul their gear for them, etc. Yes, there is still an element of danger, but real transformative adventure? He says something to the effect that people like that “are assholes before they leave, and they’re assholes when they get back.” I’m not paraphrasing very well — just watch the movie. I’m impatiently awaiting its arrival at my house on DVD. I found it very inspiring.
I’m reminded of a guy I’ve seen speak a couple of times in Missoula named Jon Turk. He is a scientist, writer and adventurer. I’ve read two of his books, In the Wake of the Jomon: Stone Age Mariners and a Voyage Across the Pacific, and Cold Oceans: Adventures in Kayak, Rowboat, and Dogsled. Both involve some harrowing trips that I don’t know that I’d be up for, but they are fascinating reading. His latest book, The Raven’s Gift: A Scientist, a Shaman, and Their Remarkable Journey Through the Siberian Wilderness, is on my shelf and soon to surface in my TBR queue.
I could ramble on and on about what I love about Turk’s writing and how he’s chosen to live his life. But this little quote from his website really says it all:
I am now 64 years old, and still blessed with good health. My body and I have an agreement. I take it to places where we have fun; it takes me to places where we have fun. We’re a team, my body and I.
That really sums it up, doesn’t it? What’s life without living a little bit? Some might call all my existential angst some kind of midlife crisis or something, and maybe they’re right. I think it’s bigger than that. Not living a certain kind of life is a betrayal. Even the things I like — stories of heroes living on the edge, adventure yarns, wilderness, travel, etc. — are like subliminal messages from my brain telling me what I should be doing. Making sure my feet find those paths is becoming more and more important to me than ever before.