Had to take a break
You ever do that? All in one day?
Sometimes you need to return to the mission, tweaking the prototype, and sometimes you need to return to the drawing board.
Did you ever find cause to re-calibrate your course, check the specs, align the spine, or are you just cruising along, never change, never change your location, never change your job, your career, your tune, never change your woman, never change your man, never change your attitude, never change your heart, never change your mind?
Never change the diet, never change your haircut, your posture, your approach shot, your perspective, your ways, your faults, your beliefs in the face of facts. Never change your route to the store, your place at the table, the dial, the channel, the color of a wall, the way you drive, your morning routine, the nature of a relationship.
That could produce a factory of incongruence and dissonance. That could catapult us to the frontiers of our comfort zones. It’s then you’ll have that yard sale.
“Hey, I like your new haircut! It’s a new you!
And the nose ring, and the eyebrow thing, and the purple Mohawk, and the new tattoos and the leather and the Goth look. Cool, honey. I was a hippie, too.
Well, I wanted to be. Tried to be, went to the try-outs, but I came in on it late, after Haight, missed the concert, missed the date, missed the show…where did everybody go? Wherever I went, whatever was happening had already happened. The firemen were rolling up the hose.
Like Manny was always saying, ‘You’re too slow. You’re too slow. You’ve got to pick up the pace. You’re three steps behind, all the time.’
Well, in a combat zone, if you’re three steps behind the guy that gets hit, that’s a good thing.
And on a basketball court, if you’re three steps behind on a fast break, you can get a sweet dish for a slam, or maybe a slam off the rebound. That’s if you’re playing up around the rim, which I still can, by the way, providing we’re playing with a seven-foot basket. Or in the pool.
Three steps off the pace, back of the pack in the backstretch. You’re yelling at the jockey, and your horse, ‘Make your move! Make your move!’
Flared snorting nostrils, thundering hooves, a whip on horsehide, the announcer calling out the funny names down the homestretch. They, the jockey and the horse, can’t hear you, but you’re on your feet, fists clenched, crumpled program, passionately screaming along with everybody else.
And then that sad, collective ‘Ohhhhhh’, the letdown, the game-tying shot that fell short, the field goal attempt that went wide, the strikeout with men on base, the champ dropping to the canvas, the home team’s failed desperation ‘Hail Mary’ in the end zone, the sound of thousands of people experiencing disappointment all at once, together.
Another aerial artist, Geppetto, who was three ticks ahead of his time on trapeze at the time of his death,* truly disappointed, once said, ‘You go out there and try to wow ‘em, you put on the show, and they either like it or they don’t. Mostly, they want to see you fall.’
And Mr. Ferguson, who was always secretly against me, once said coldly, ‘In this business, you’ve got to have marketable talent, and you’ve either got it, or you don’t. You can’t show up with an empty tool bag.’
And Frankie once said in exasperation, ‘I don’t have scales. Here’s the bag, here’s the price, you either want it or you don’t. So?’
These guys weren’t speaking to me, directly. I overheard it. Those are just quotes, either/or quotes. Quotes laden with covert disappointment. ‘You’re either with us, or against us.’ For it, or against it. We're either going zone, or man-to-man. You're either building a nuke, or you're not.
And Manny said after the big title challenge, ‘Don’t feel bad. Everybody has an off day. Look at Wallenda.** You’re either on your game, or you’re not. See you at practice.’
In a world of simplified black and white dualities, you can be slow, three steps off the pace, working the gray area. And even if you’re coming in off the bench, that’s okay. Not everybody is a starter. Not everybody is a runner-up. Not everybody is even a contender. Some of us are in the left field stands, waving our signs, and some of us aren’t even in the park.
Sometimes here there is no water. Sometimes no electricity. It doesn’t happen frequently, but it happens. No explanation why.
*Actually, Geppetto's timing was impeccable. It was Vinnie, his catcher, who stayed out late the night before. Vinnie never 'came to grips' with Geppetto's death.