Saturday, June 21, 2008

Nobody's Here




A few days after Tiger Wood's gutsy performance in the U.S. Open revealed he would need a lengthy recovery time for a knee injury, the rumblings began. First the sports commentators complained that without Woods, there would be nobody worth watching. OK they get paid to make statements like that, I excuse the shallow reasoning. Then I heard it again. A boisterous contingent of 30 something golf enthusiasts were saying the same thing in my local coffee shop. They even used the N word-Nobody. "Nobody's worth watching anymore," one of them said.
I'm reminded of the many times a student would enter my classroom a bit earlier than usual, glance around the room, see about ten people, roughly a third of the class, and then announce, "nobody's here," and walk out the door.
We know what they are saying, these nobody's here declarers. We don't even need to say the chopped liver line in response. But could they be saying something more?
Could it be that the personality has become valued more than the game, the event, group? Probably so. If that becomes the case, we lose an opportunity to appreciate everything from our environment to a round of golf from a completely different perspective. I always loved the times when nobody was there. They gave me a chance to interact with students in different ways or with students I didn't always get an opportunity to know as well. I enjoy watching the Giants without Barry Bonds similarly. The game becomes completely altered. The wins have a new appreciation. The home runs are always a surprise now.
A couple of weeks ago I encountered a young couple in a coffee house I frequent. When the guy asked me what I was writing on my computer I mentioned that I'm trying to write a memoir. His girlfriend looked at me incredulously. "What did you ever do to write a memoir?" She instantly realized the foolishness of her remark, but it was such a pure moment of speaking without thinking. I answered her question.

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