Now is a fantastic time for American pro sports. The NHL is in the middle of the Stanley Cup playoffs, with the Pittsburgh Penguins advancing past the Washington Capitals in a showdown between Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin, perhaps the two most talented players in the game. Maybe two weeks ago, both managed hat tricks in a single game.
And the NBA playoffs are going on, too. My Facebook home page conveyed the ups-and-downs of the LA Lakers playing the Houston Rockets in the previous round of playoffs as my high school friends roared about Rockets wins and my college friends pumped up about Lakers wins. After losing their two best players, who knew the Rockets had enough fight to force game 7? Even more shocking, the Cleveland Cavaliers, 8-0 through the first two round of the playoffs, lost one at home to the Orlando Magic after LeBron James scores 49 points.
And baseball, my true passion. And in that respect, it’s been very good to be me. The Toronto Blue Jays, expected to be the 4th place team in the hardest division (the American League east), currently have the best record in the American League. With 4 injured starters. 3 of their 5 starters are rookies, and 1 is filling in after being in the bullpen for awhile. But it looks like it might be catching up to them. The Jays are currently in Boston playing the Red Sox, who are probably a better team. In this first big test, they’ve lost both of the games so far, and I’m hoping they can salvage the series with a win tomorrow.
It’s been good to really pay attention again. I’m listening to the ESPN: Baseball Today podcast, so I actually know what’s going on with all the teams, not just the Jays. I can even keep the Gameday up in the background to get game information streamed while I’m doing something else, like playing tuba. Probably because of the jazz history class you’ve seen concert reports for, I’ve become interested in music again and thus have picked up the tuba again after an almost year-long break.
And that’s been a lot of fun, too. I’m not as sharp as I used to be. I’ve forgotten the little music theory that I used to know, and I’ve lost more in technique than the state of California has in tax revenue. Less endurance means I’ve had to cut back on my warmup exercises, and I’m pretty much done after that. But it’s been a lot of fun. Even long tones, lip slurs, and scales are exciting to me now. It seems absurd to me now that I didn’t practice more in high school. I had the time to get on the instrument for at least an hour everyday, and it was fulfilling. It’s hard to conceive now that at one point, I didn’t think that playing scales were fun.
Perhaps my newfound enthusiasm stems from the knowledge that this will be short-lived, and I should enjoy it while I can. In high school, I always practiced because I figured I needed to be better for tomorrow, and longer down the road. Having never been away from an instrument for more than a week or two for over 5 years, high school Kevin couldn’t imagine not having music to keep working on. Since coming to college, I’ve had to think more about what’s coming up in the future, and in preparation for that, my activities have shifted away from music. Right now, it looks like I’ll play through the summer and drop it again after that.
So when I practice, it’s absolutely still because I want to get better, but it’s not for the far away future. Maybe I go through all of my warmups because I don’t know any other way to practice. But I like to think it’s about having fun. It’s because right now, it seems like the fun thing to do.
Seeing how well the Jays are doing, I’m very much anticipating them going to the playoffs for the first time since they won the World Series in 1993. When I actually realize that in my mind, though, maybe it isn’t so important. I’ll certainly go through severe angst if it comes down to the end of the regular season to get a playoff spot; I could barely even look at the MLB website today because I was so disappointed that the Jays lost. But my life won’t change because of it. I’m pulling for a Lakers-Cavs NBA finals and have gotten so tense in both the Cavs-Magic game today and the Lakers-Nuggets game yesterday, but even if things don’t turn out that way, it won’t be dinner conversation for even a week after the playoffs end.
It kind of reminds me of a quote from the economist John Maynard Keynes (which I admittedly has likely either misattributed, misunderstood, or taken out of context). In response to the classical economic belief that economic problems will resolve themselves in the long run, he wrote, “In the long run we are all dead.” It’s usually a good idea to keep an eye on the future, but life is just as much a series of short runs, and the most exciting and important things to enjoy are what’s happening right now.