Home Ice

22 10 2012

Home Ice by the late Jack Falla is a wonderful book.  I highly recommend it to everyone.  It’s sort of a memoir of a hockey-infatuated father, husband, writer who is best able to express himself and point out his flaws in relation to the ice rink or a frozen pond.

* * * 

I gave all my hockey gear away on Saturday.  This marks the end of the line for me.  I had just finished Home Ice the week before, but I have known that it is time for me to move on for months now.  I guess the thing that really drove this point home for me was last month, when I got a text message from the goalie of the 18+ inline team I’ve played a few seasons with since 2009.  

As much as I enjoyed a few more stolen seasons of hockey, and as much as I loved the exhilaration from skating up the rink and executing a perfect pass or a tip-in, it was time.  I’ve pulled a groin muscle on my work softball team last year, and I think I bruised a rib last year out at the rinks in Corona.

My brother and I have always relished the competition and measurement offered by sport, but he’s been a good example to me in the last few years of how to transition from needing to compete to truly desiring to succeed.  And for him as well as me, success is becoming more and more clearly defined by what happens during the workday, during my downtime, and how I serve others at home and at church.

Taking hours each Saturday (and spending plenty of money besides) just to slake my sporting thirst is no longer permissible to me.  I started feeling guilty when I realized I didn’t care much about the people I was playing hockey with, didn’t care much who saw me succeed.  I really found myself mainly caring about what I did relative to what I thought I was capable of.  That scared me.  If it’s woodworking or writing or running, pushing yourself to excellence is an admirable thing that requires dedication and hard work.  However, what I saw was something twisted and self-absorbed beyond what my sense of responsibility could let me get away with any longer.  

It was fun, for a time.  Rarely, it was a joy.  I still won’t forget the smell of stale sweat and bearing lubricant as I hopped off the bench to take my first shift wearing a crisp #7 Minnesota North Stars Neal Broten jersey in 2011.  I scored two goals that game, and I started thinking that I was “breaking in” the jersey, finally getting it ready for what jerseys are made for: playing.

“In life as in hockey, you’ve got to play hurt,” Falla says in Home Ice.  He’s right.  You have to accomplish  things without the benefit of comfort or consolation, because those things are a distraction far more frequently than they are a reward for a job well done.  And once we find ourselves seeking comfort and consolation as ends in themselves, we wind up working at the same place for thirty years because it’s easy.  We increasingly devote ourselves to vices and amusements to satisfy urges that we used to have the strength to temper.  We become bodybuilders who only work on the glamour muscles, working all day long to stave off insecurity while the most vital elements of our well-being and self-defense grow flabby and impotent.

So I gave up playing hockey.  At least for the future.

Of course, after reading Home Ice, I would rather skate by myself on a 40-foot backyard rink at 6 in the morning than almost anything else.  



24 05 2010

Boys will be foul-mouthed boys

The Mighty Ducks embodies everything I desired as a kid:  Glory through accomplishing something incredibly difficult, the admiration of my peers, and a sweet early 90s soundtrack.  Also hockey.  This sport, for some reason, really holds a lot of fascination for me.  Sports in general always have, but hockey seems to contain the smooth, rapid flashes of proficiency in an unparalleled manner.

I came to terms with the fact that I’ll probably never gain any great, lasting glory through any accomplishment in sports a long time ago, but I always think, when watching Mike Modano (or Michael Modano, as he’s credited in Mighty Ducks) glide up the ice, that if it were me out there being watching by millions of people, I’d somehow enjoy it more than anyone else.  I’ve loved competition my whole life (even as far back as playing chess with Dad on that old civil war set he has somewhere), but I finally had to realize a few months ago that competition is just the tiniest taste of greatness through accomplishment…but I’ll always savor those few moments I did have.  Not because they’re somehow more honorable than real battles fought against real enemies (and really, how can fighting another human truly be something to rejoice over wholeheartedly?), but because they’re more innocent.  Such fun can only be had in community, and community is just a taste of the greatest relationship we’ll ever know.

Hackey Pickshure

4 11 2009

This is a picture of the motley hockey crew we had last week.  (I’ll be back with more regular updates later this week — Work, you know.)


Miracle Kid

5 10 2009

I could watch this a lot of times.

Patrick Kane Beats Up Taxi Drivers for $0.20

16 08 2009

Really, he does.

I’m on the cusp of big changes.  I’ll have to start writing a lot in the next month, but if things pan out (Lord willing) I could be entering a stage of great responsibility and great experience.

I would love to be in charge of something this big; it appears I will have that chance by September 11th.  I’ve waited, patiently and not, for over a year.  I’ve groaned, cried, complained and despaired over anything like this ever coming to fruition.

And while it hasn’t yet happened, and much could still change, I pray that I will be up to the task that now sits before me.

Pardon the pretentious dust, but I’m excited.  I even chose to drink an Americano this afternoon despite the rather unpleasantly evocative nature of the prospect; it was as bitter as I was (expecting it) to be.  But, like I could probably stand to do more often, I used my “treat receipt” (name courtesy of the cute/overly helpful barista) to engorge myself with a Frappuccino.  White mocha with caramel (the first and only way I have drunk something as repulsively delicious as a Starbucks Frappuccino) is now coursing through my veins, and I can’t imagine a better way to prepare myself for Sunday afternoon hockey.  Bring it on, boys.

Fractured Fractals

12 07 2009

After being forced to constantly turn my friend Corey down, I finally made it out to a park in Chino Hills where he and some friends play inline hockey.  While it’s about a 30 minute drive, it was well worth the trip.  Of course, it was hot and muggy, we only had one goalie, and I got sniped on a breakaway, but it was really fun to get back out there.   However, the one thing that kept frustrating me was my inability to finish.  I would execute a nice little toe drag (of sorts) approaching the goal, but I couldn’t elevate the puck to save my life.   I’m still a decent skater, and I can defend and pass as well as anyone else we played with, but I never have been all that great of a shooter.  I am great, however, at falling on my butt.  Only did it once, but it was absolutely unassisted, and my elbow still hurts a little.  Thankfully I was wearing gear, so no chance of my killing myself or anything.  We weren’t exactly playing to kill, either.  (as long as you don’t count my wrist shot that tagged the goalie in the face.  Masks are our friends.)

Now I get to start another week.  Last week was one of my harder weeks to get through in a long time, and I hope this one is better.  Attitude adjustment, right?

Also finished reading The Shack this week.  I’m still formulating my opinion of the whole thing, but I have lots of little reactions to some of the prose.  The phrase “Thomas Kinkade of Literature” came to mind more than once.

Not that there’s anything wrong with Thomas Kinkade.

Go team.