Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Celtics 17

banner 17More Than a Feeling – Peace of Mind – It's Been Such a Long Time – Smokin'– Let Me Take You Home Tonight...

It happened 7 days ago, last Tuesday, 17 June, and arrogantly or not, for the record I'm turning this past Celtics season and their spectacular triumph in the NBA finals into a fable to parallel my own apparently non-victorious situation of the past dozen plus years. During game 6 at Boston (TDBankNorth) Garden someone held up a poster with the equation:
celtics banner 17
17, 17, 34, oh, yes! Series MVP Paul Pierce, whose website features The Man | The Player | The Community was graceful energy and determination throughout. Being interviewed at game 4 the previous Thursday he essentially said you don't think of the score--you simply play the game and gave us another explication of the famous "losing hurts worse than winning feels good," though that was prior to Tuesday...

Given that I'm making this a parable for my situation besides rejoicing in the Celtics win, the commentator who observed during an earlier game how a particular habit or trait frequently is both a person's or a team's weakness and their strength could have been talking directly about me. Assessing and surveying these too many years it's easy to see how one and the same characteristic has helped me get through too many rougher than rough patches just as in some cases it may have carried me to that point or kept me stuck there. I prefer how the word vulnerability translates into an easily-to-wound spot to "weakness," but the difference is negligible.

I noted the quote but not the date he spoke, but I loved that Los Angeles Lakers' coach Phil Jackson said "We don't stand as individuals in this game; it's a team game" and he quoted from Rudyard Kipling's "The Law for the Wolves":
Now this is the law of the jungle, as old and as true as the sky,
And the wolf that shall keep it may prosper, but the wolf that shall break it must die.
Immediately after last Tuesday's game and after we'd both posted "CELTICS!!!" status updates, Mike Lewis from church and I wall-to-walled on Facebook; here's part of our exchange:
me: [responding to Mike's Celtics status update] Oh, absolutely ! Was that not the SWEETEST victory, and even on their home court! It doesn't get any better than that--isn't Paul Pierce astounding!! Here's a high 5 for all of us, but especially for Boston and the Celtics!

Mike: Yeah, that was quite the exclamation point. KG finally came alive tonight and what a difference he made, he was a formidable presence. And how about Rondo, that little guy really was pesky and got in the Lakers business all night, he played a key role in getting the Lakers off-kilter. And finally, Paul Pierce, who after years of suffering finally got his due and cemented his place in Celtics lore. What a great season, after all these dark years it's finally nice to celebrate again!

Me: I so agree with everything you've said about everyone--and how wonderful that some of the greatest of the greats, maybe especially John Havlicek and Bill Russell were there to savor it all! I've been making these finals (actually the entire season) into a parable for my own life, since I've taken a truly unexpectedly excessive ton of hits over these years, but not to be modest, like the Celtics by grace I've been able to keep on keepin' on, all the while honing my skills in a lot of areas, and I'm waiting for my own splendid victory...here's a Bed of Roses for Boston!

banner 17Mike: I think the main thing to takeaway from the 07-08 Celtics is the fabric of their team; they were many components that meshed together as one unit. Together, they became as one and were victorious. They surrendered their desires for a greater good and emerged victorious! It was a win for the ages and very satisfying to witness this year.
Paraphrasing again, as Oprah told the teenager you know you can't do life by yourself, on your own. My innumerable attempts to reweave the fabric of my life all have pretty much failed and I've spent far too much time crawling rather than limping (let alone walking), yet I've done a ton of teaching, written a few 100 pages of substantial theology, won several design awards and produced several 100 graphic design pieces, all stuff that's ready to take me almost anywhere and none of which was there in this kind of relatively polished professional form when the recall committee hit nor even during the life stuff buttonyears immediately afterwards. Though I'll readily admit I'd accomplished a fair amount in those fields and I'll include the Beethoven Piano Sonata cycle in that series, I still have 5 more to go before I can claim to play the entire cycle to public performance level...so true I've been chippin' away at Beethoven for a long time, but when serving a local church (teaching in a local school, being a caseworker, attorney or any of a myriad of direct-service oriented callings) one simply does not have much physical or emotional space to dedicate to projects like Beethoven. Just like Paul Pierce, for the most part I haven't been checking the score or adding up the years, though the few times I've taken a count I've gasped at the number of years traversed yet quietly rejoiced at the distances I've run. So who's even thinking or imagining "Lakers over Celtics" or "Yankees over Red Sox" or "World Out There over Leah Right Here?!" In Poetry Party 17 (there's that number17 again) at the end of April I quoted the lyrics and linked to a performance of Bob Dylan's "When the Ship Comes In." It includes, "And the words that are used for to get the ship confused will not be understood as they're spoken, for the chains of the seas will have busted in the night and be buried at the bottom of the ocean." Amen?! Amen!!!

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