Matt, I would never doubt of you that you had a grip on where the NBA fits in the scheme of things. And I’m sorry that your fancy chair is in a fancy glass room you have in the middle of your house. No, for real. Now, you concluded with an interesting sentence: a question punctuated as an exclamation (“What do I do!”). What do I do, as a teacher, with that “What do I do!”! A question is an irresistible lure for a teacher; a plea, like yours, only so much more so. And for me — with a need to fix or buffer other people’s misery that has veered on pathology — well, I am lost. So I’m going to ignore the unsettling exclamation point that feels as though it is taking back the question/plea just proffered; as though my former student is reminding me that I’m not the teacher anymore, that he no longer needs me, that he has graduated.
Yeah, I’m going to ignore all that and step up my pedantry (noun, plural -ries.: the character, qualities, practices, etc., of a pedant, especially undue display of learning. Pedant, by the way, came into English from the Italian word (by way of Middle French) pedante, meaning “teacher, schoolmaster,” which some etymologists believe is an alteration of late Latin paedagogantem, a participle of paedagogare that means “person who trumpets minor points of learning.”
The lockout is like a passage in one of the elective books y’all had to read last semester. It’s an external phenomenon that is triggering a spike in emotional intensity in you. Emotions (says Spinoza, remember him?) inform us as to the state of our relationship with our own power to act: joy tells us our power to act is increasing; sadness tells us our power to act is decreasing. Spinoza continues: our power to act is partly determined by our relationship to our environment and partly determined by our level of understanding of that relationship.
You feel sadness, Matt. (I know you are also annoyed and angry. But for the sake of simplicity, I think it’s fair to sum up your affective state as sadness.) Of course, you already knew you felt sad. This sadness informs you that your power to act has diminished. You expressed this implicitly in your extended La-Z-Boy recliner metaphor in which the “you” character is totally passive, totally subject to the actions of an unseen agent. That agent has a) taken away your recliner; b) locked it in a room; c) and subtly encouraged you to look at it (it is in a glass room, after all, in the middle of your house, so it would be hard not to look at it, especially since it is so beloved) and by doing this last thing has trapped you on a potentially endless loop of sadness in which each look at the recliner in the glass room reminds you of what you have loved and lost and of your lack of power with respect to it and so reinforces the sadness you are feeling.
So my response to the (not) question: “What do I do!” is a (not) answer: ”How can you reconnect with your power to act with respect to the game you love and thereby transmute that sadness into joy?”
You’re right. I am sad. And there is no question that my sadness and frustration largely stems from my sudden lack of power. In some confusing way, I am angry at all the new technology that made the game so unfathomably accessible, giving me too much power over my daily NBA intake. With that said, I love your (not) answer to my (not) question, despite the fact that I don’t have one perfect answer.
Unfortunately, I don’t think I will be able to experience any NBA-related “joy” while the lockout is ongoing, unless D. Rose wins a Nobel Prize or something like that. My frustration with the situation as a whole along with the fact that I simply won’t be able to see actual NBA games simply overwhelms any shot at joy.
So, while we agree that my current loss of power has infiltrated me with sadness, a recent conversation with Mr. Matt Bailey himself helped clue me in to another huge cause for my allergic-like reaction to the lockout. Like you, Yago, Matt Bailey is relatively indifferent to the lockout. Not that he doesn’t miss the NBA or his beloved Celtics, but like you, he has quite a “real life” – marriage, long hours on the job, mortgage, etc…So his NBA experience is affected less today by daily mundane activities as much as it is by bigger picture projects or ideas (Hoopism). Hearing this from Matt B made me think about myself and where I am in life.
While I am working full-time, I’m still young without any major “real life” commitments. Thus, I still can choose to spend my free time throwing myself into various, maybe even trivial aspects of the game. With that said, now that college has already passed, I know my days are numbered. I simply don’t know how much longer I’ll have to be obsessed with the NBA and not have it detract from “real life.” What does this mean? It means the lockout scares me because to me it feels like I’m getting robbed of the last days of pre-real responsibility. Plus, I just spent four years desperately trying to schedule sports watching time around studying and now the lockout has to happen when homework no longer exists? That’s just wrong.
So, for the first time in my life I feel kind of like Blake Griffin (who may have his second out of three possible NBA seasons taken away). While I’d love to believe that Blake will fly forever, there’s no question that his freakish leaping will one day come to an end (or at least slow down), just as MJ’s did.
With that in mind, while I have spent my time in this space being somewhat negative, I do believe there is an important life skill to be gained, and the more energy I pour into understanding this art, the better I will connect with the game (and more) in the future. That art is appreciation.
In my life up until now, I’ve learned that personally, the longer I am separated from something I love, the greater happiness when I am reunited. For example, this is not the first elongated break from the NBA I’ve had in the past two years. I studied abroad from 1/2010 to 6/2010 and while I was still able to follow the NBA closely, I basically couldn’t watch games (one of my roommates and I subscribed to NBA League Pass International but it never really worked..so be forewarned if you try it yourself). During these 5 months as I continued to read about D. Rose’s maturation as a player and so on, I came to truly appreciate how much I loved watching games and how much I missed it. When I returned, my game watching experience was totally altered, as I now had such great appreciation for simply being able to see the game on a daily basis.
So bringing this back to the current lockout, I’m just hoping that whenever the NBA returns, l’ll be able to fully savor any chance I get to watch and hopefully won’t have to deal with another “power outage” anytime soon…
Yes, Matt. It is all about perspective, but we don’t always get to choose our perspective. It reminds me of something Karl Marx wrote, a propos of a different lockout: “NBA fans make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past. The tradition of all dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living.” Maybe it doesn’t fit perfectly, but you get the idea.
Your wise recognition that you and I are in different seasons of life and these circumstances of life partially determine how we experience things and how they affect us emotionally bodes well for you, my young padowan. I do hope, for your sake especially but also for mine, that the season returns soon. In the meantime, until it does, mind your feelings and trust the force.
Wait a minute. On second thought. Don’t put away your notebooks yet…We still have a couple minutes left.
The Professor always wins. I’ll see you in Part III…
Check back next week to see the conclusion of Matt and Yago’s chat.