Friday, September 30, 2011

A Game is More Than A Game

Have you ever noticed young children sitting in their Mom's grocery cart as they spot another child on the same aisle?  It's as if they create an immediate bond because of their stature.  They probably are thinking, "Hey, there's a little kid. I wonder if she wants to get out of this dumb cart as much as I do."   Children often stare and perhaps reach out with chubby little hands as if there is an unspoken kinship between them.

As we grow and mature,  we seldom reach out to strangers. Our greetings are reserved for friends and family. We sense a disconnect, but are not sure what to do about it.

The needs of the human heart have not changed even if technology has altered the many ways we communicate.   We still recognize the value of shared experiences and memories.  We respond to ritual and homecoming .  We appreciate the teamwork needed in the quest to compete and win. And so as the temperatures cool, we really are ready for some football.

Seated in a stadium with thousands of other fans, some of them painted with team colors and wearing bad wigs, we have a common goal---we want our team to win, no, we want them to annihilate the other team all in the name of healthy competition and good sportsmanship, of course.

Last weekend our family attended my first University of Virginia football game. The  energy of the students and fans was contagious. The band, the cheerleaders and the pageantry helped build the excitement.  Favorite cheers, "Let's go wahoos," (Don't ask me how a Cavalier mascot developed into a wahoo cheer, but I think it has a long and fabled history.) reverberated through the stadium and, at times, the team responded.  We didn't taste victory that day, but we did connect as the 12th man on the field. We booed questionable calls, we cheered 1st downs and touchdowns. It was a feast of compatibility.

So maybe our culture is not always so great about keeping the lines of communication open. Maybe we isolate ourselves with busyness. But we do know and understand the bonds developed because of a game called football.  

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Confession Time

Confession time--I did want the final result to be "perfect", whatever that means.  It all started with a batch of green tomatoes from our garden that were destined for my version of baked/fried green tomatoes.  The tomatoes were small and with temperatures dipping below 90 degrees (thank goodness!) they weren't going to get any larger. So I'm slicing the tomatoes and find this pleasing trick of nature, a smiley face on my tomato's bottom!

 So, naturally I had to create an image of it. (I know, call me crazy.) That's when that monster, Mr. Perfection,  reared his lovely head. 

 "You do know that you're posing a tomato, don't you?," he slyly mentions.  Or one of my favorites, "No one is going to care. They will think it's silly and won't take you seriously." There was more, but why give Mr. Perfection any attention he doesn't deserve.

 I pushed ahead and tossed a few different types of tomatoes together in a favorite pottery bowl keeping the camera handy.  By the way, the brown ones may look strange, but they are quite good.

 This simple kitchen experience got me thinking about how the yearning for perfection or the idea to "do it right or don't do it at all" thought process can be crippling.  It is important to do a good job, to be a friend and colleague who is reliable. But it is just as important to have fun, to try new things, to say what you want to say, to wear what you want to wear, to do what you want to do--as long as any of that isn't invading someone else's rights.  After all, why give Mr. Perfection or other people's opinions so much power?   It is important to fail and try again. I have learned my most valuable lessons when I've made mistakes.  I didn't enjoy the process, but I remember the lessons.

 All these thoughts are running through my head because I was (am) a little intimidated about starting a blog. Mr. Perfection has been hanging around. I just started reading blogs this summer and think it is a fabulous form of self expression, creativity and sharing.  Here's where my confession comes in as well as my conversations with Mr. Perfection.  I wondered if I had anything new to offer.   Right now I don't even know how to create a blog, load a photo or respond to comments.  I want the blog to be representative of me yet I don't know much about the process!  I could add more things, but you get the idea.

 Fortunately my tomato experience taught me that I do have something to offer and that something is me. My little green tomato is hard, green and quite small. But just like its juicy, red and plumb counterparts, this little fellow has different gifts that taste fabulous when dunked in some half & half,  coated with cornmeal and flour with a bit of cayenne pepper & salt, then baked in a hot oven. Hmmmm--tastes like the end of summer.