How one feels after a match has nothing to do with what happens during the match and everything to do with what one thought before the match. Say three guys are sitting in a bar aprés loss:
“I never thought we could win silver,” says the first. “But I’m grateful for the run.”
“I didn’t know if we would win,” says the second. “But I’m bummed we lost.”
“I was sure we were going to win,” says the third. “Now I’m having an existential crisis.”
A lot of cules appear to be suffering from an existential crisis these days. Odd, given that “these days” include a thrilling end to a roller coaster of a season with two titles as yet unclaimed, an international mash-up of football stars and styles, and a gaggle of coaches as colorful as any Shakespearean cast. But since the crisis is existential, it has little do with actual existence. Instead, we ruminate upon “those days,” back in the Spring of 2013, or dread “days yet to come,” such as upcoming transfer windows, or Wednesday. People thought what ought to come about. And now people are freaking the @*&^$# out.
During a freak out, it is helpful to know someone in Colorado who runs a pharmacy. But if you do not live in Colorado, you can always try Buddhism. Now, there are many varieties of Buddhism all around the world. Even here in the US of A, there are different kinds of Buddhists! You have your Venerable Greys, who deeply contemplate the ingredients list of a bag of granola at Whole Foods. Boy Scout Buddhists seek enlightenment by scaling mountains with little more than thousands of dollars’ worth of REI gear. And then you have the Oprahians, who spend the afternoon with their girlfriends dribbling chardonnay over dog-eared copies of Seat of the Soul. I happen to like food and not like heights, so I guess I am an Oprahian (Don’t you touch that DVR! She’s got Deepak on at 4!)
It’s easy to be an American Buddhist. All you need is a yearning for inner peace and access to the Internet. Once on the Internet, you can Google the word “koan”. Koans are little stories that don’t make any sense, but if you think about them long enough, you find inner peace, either because you finally get it or you give up and go do something else. There are hundreds of Internet koans, and I have gleaned a few that seem particularly relevant to our club and the current season in hopes of bringing all of you some inner peace.
The Best Player
A sports journalist with writer’s block approached a monk. “Master,” he said. “Who is the greater player: Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi?”
“Yes,” replied the monk.
“Master, I don’t understand,” said the sports journalist. “Do you mean that Lionel Messi is the greater player?”
“No,” said the monk.
“So, Cristiano is the greater player?”
“Who?” asked the monk.
“I see,” said the sports journalist. Having received his answer, he left to file his article.
The New Stadium
Once a club president visited the monk. “Master,” he said. “Our board of directors is in disharmony over a stadium. A new stadium would bring revenues and offer better concessions, but some are still attached to the old stadium. I seek your counsel.”
“Go out to the stadium,” said the monk, “and count every blade of grass. When you reach the final blade, you will have your answer.”
The club president thanked the monk and went to the stadium, where he got on his hands and knees and began to count each blade of grass. After a while, he noticed the old monk, on his hands and knees, counting just beside him.
“Master,” said the club president. “It is difficult for me to keep track of the blades of grass with you right there counting too.”
The monk raised a finger to his lips and smiled. “Shhh,” he said.
The Nature of Beauty
Three superstar players argued about the nature of beauty and decided to consult the monk.
“Master,” the first said. “Behold my Chinese tattoo. I don’t know what it says, but is it not beautiful?”
The master peered at the tattoo. “That is not Beauty,” he replied.
“Master,” the second said. “Look at my two-tone Bugatti Veyron. Is it not beautiful?”
The master stared at the car. “That is not Beauty,” he replied.
“Master,” the third said. “Here comes my Colombian girlfriend. Is she not beautiful?”
The master turned around. “Yeah, all right,” he said.
The Way to Play
A coach who didn’t know how to guide his players visited the monk. “Master,” he said, “my team plays an enlightened form of football which requires concentration and patience. But other teams disrupt our tranquility by placing more of their players in the midfield.”
“Then move everyone to the midfield,” replied the monk.
“Ah, because then we will have more players in the midfield?” said the coach. “But Master, if everyone plays in the midfield, we will have no striker up front. Who will score our goals?”
“Then keep everyone out of the midfield,” replied the monk.
“But Master, if no one plays in the midfield, our goalkeeper will not be able to move the ball out of our area. How will he pass the ball to the other players?”
The monk threw his hands in the air. “Well, what do you want me to tell you?” he cried. “Geesh.”
So … peace out, yo!