Thursday, June 28, 2012

A Note on Serious Practice

Red reflected at the OSU Field House
I have been fully employed since Monday afternoon with (da-dum) The Grandson.  He's here in Columbus staying with us for his second year at OSU Basketball Camp.  This has been a great experience, eating out (on his mom's dollar), doing origami together, playing Wizard, showing each other favorite YouTube videos.  Baked store-bought cookie dough that was lurking around in the frig.  Rode to and fro to OSU with Tom driving the van and me and Otto in the back seat, chatting, sometimes him messing with my phone - a nice Samsung with big screen for playing the latest update on Angry Birds Seasons. 

We celebrated his half-birthday (June 25 - it's terrible to have your birthday on Christmas) with an iTunes gift card and two tee-shirts on sale at the OSU store. He and I figured out how to make Heywire (free text service) work.  It is so good to be a grandparent.  He is polite and respectful to us, no need to battle with us about anything.  We don't have to push nutrition - they harangue the kids about that at the camp. (Lunch on Day One is always, horrors, salad day.)  I don't care if he doesn't hang his towels up for a few days; but if he lived with us, we'd have to deal with things like that. 

This morning Tom and I sat for half an hour in the stadium and watched the assemblage as the teams (eight of them, I think, grades 6-9) gathered and were instructed in the art of paying attention to the coach, or *Coach* himself, who gives brief, hard-hitting talks.  Thad Matta's story of working with a really bad back is actually very inspiring.  Serious sports is a discipline as stringent as Zen.  Coach talks to the kids twice a day, and you don't see him limp.

He would suddenly say "Two claps," and everyone better clap sharp and right on time; and louder.  The lesser coaches did it too, sometimes going up and down, one clap, three claps, no claps.  I told Tom we should do this on Zen retreats; it's fun.  What they have done on retreats we've been part of as the week wears on is chant Kanzeon, in Japanese.  This is short and rhythmic and is repeated seven times, getting louder and faster - with the wooden drum, as I recall.  It dissipates stuck energy, and energizes.  Tom and I especially like the part when you shout enthusiastically, "Go butsu!"  Maybe someday we'll get our act together and record ourselves or our Zen group doing it.

I could have spent the rest of this short day on YouTube looking at chant videos.  I found one of Japanese baseball fans chanting, but not many of Zen chanting.  Zen does favor silence, or the long, slow meandering talks by the Teacher. 
I learned a lot this week about how good sports can be for kids: discipline, paying attention, and most of all, submitting to failure over and over again; and practice. You shoot how many baskets to get one? I don't know, but as a poet, it is inspired me to go get more rejections. And it makes my short daily meditation look pathetically easy.

1 comment:

  1. Have a Happy Fourth, eat some BBQ! Even if it is vegan.