Sunday September 26, 2010 the New Orleans Saints lost a home game in overtime to their toughest competitors in the NFC South this year – the Atlanta Falcons. At halftime both teams were tied as well as at the end of regulation play. It was a well-played game with nuns as guest of honor, a huge and emotional crowd and some really impressive play by so many from Vilma and the defensive squad to Thomas, Henderson, Shockey and Colston — but especially it featured a superb performance by Lance Moore. There was a good performance with Drew Brees but also some interceptions. The notable failure of Hartley on two field goal attempts and having Bush off the field with an injury were the most notable factors contributing to the loss. It was a glorious game hard played between two teams. There was nothing bad about it except the final result but the loss did remind me of the so very many very bad days in the past. It reminded me just a tiny glimmer of how it felt to root for the local team when things looked so very bad. I expect the Saints to end up being pretty good this season but even if they are not I will be a Saints Fan. That fact reminded me that in many ways I have been very unhappy and displeased most of my life by so very many things. I remembered that in some ways the Saints of the worst season match my life more than the Saints of the good seasons or the Saints of last year’s spectacular season.
I have decided to focus on all that is good about living a horrible life in this post. Maybe this can be used to discourage a trend of suicide somewhere. Maybe it can be used to make those who do not feel miserable feel better about themselves. I am writing an autobiographical note. Many of my autobiographical writings have touched on this theme but this is a note focused on one of the themes entirely and directly. This is an effort to look at my life primarily as a prolonged and intense misery.
I think that in all of this story of misery and unhappiness I will start with my right foot. There is a rather large birthmark on top of it and it tends to varying degrees of swollen, painful and deformed dysfunction. I am more aware of that than usual this week. Sometimes I can participate in many strenuous activities and it does not bother me much for many months and other times it keeps me in cheap sel applied braces and home therapies for months at a time with seldom any break from these routines — but I am still mobile, ambulatory and active most of every day. I do not remember my birth and so I wonder if I was crushed or injured, if it happened in utero or it was genetic. I have vague memories related to this injury as a child including the fact that I never had a good foot doctor and also that some adults discussed amputating the foot and how I never recovered respect for most adult opinion after that. Since those days my life has led me to feel that Hell is somehow a very subjective thing and that I was really born into hell in many ways. The world is at least out of sync with what I would call the idea of what is good. Why that may be is a very complicated question if one really tries to answer it adequately.
Now at 46 years of age I am experiencing some of the signs of aging. Those things do not improve my quality of life. However, the main thing I remember is how many and varied the bad times have been. How very bad the very bad times have been. It is interesting that I do not feel I have suffered far more than everybody else. In fact I have known people who were suffering much more than I was when I met them. But things are just so amazingly awful that I have often been caught up in complete amazement at how often multiple very great evils oppose one another and squeeze out almost anything that I could call good. I look back a t times when I helped a child or an adolescent pass a difficult course and I feel pretty good about that. I look back at times I dropped off a box of food, a bag of candy or medicines with people who really needed it and I feel good. I look back on bringing people in jails with limited resources small bars of soap and pieces of fruit with satisfaction. I look back on writing about special overlooked stories about interesting people for newspapers and other publications and I feel good. But overall I think of how much was always getting so much worse and still is getting so much worse and how horrible it was to be able to do so little good.
I just feel discouraged, well not just discouraged but I do feel discouraged. I feel so sad for all the bad things that happened to people I knew and cared about but could not really help.I also remember countless good deeds done to me and to others but I am truly amazed at how many truly horrible things I have witnessed in my life. Literally I do feel that “things have worked out” amazingly badly on this planet. That the human condition is surprisingly horrific. My own life is simply in harmony with this larger trend. I have sometimes described this to close friends as a sense that one is playing a game for which the winning score is 21 or over but one has a handicapped starting position which make it impossible to get past zero in the number of plays one has available. Thus the most heroic efforts would result in what the fair observer would regard as normal nothing.
I am not coming to this realization from the point of view of someone who is innocent and totally free of any of the evil he sees in the world. It is more probable that I regard myself as an unrealistically tough and resilient player in the dark and seedy games of life. Yet there are a number of things I really do regard as evil even if I have done them and consider them to be things I understand well. Likewise there are people I have cared about and who have mattered to me whom I could not really call “good people”, “true friends”, loyal or anything else along those lines despite the connection between us. Overall they were in my honest opinion at the very least bad guys or baddies depending on your dialect. But I am not willing either to write off all that was good about them. Overall, the context was just rotten to the core and they were part of that rotten milieu. However, there was good in them, in us and in the environs.
I have looked hard and listened intently in life. Hope has not been something I have been inspired to see or feel a great deal in the searching I have done. There have been moments of hope but they have been islands in a sea of other things.
All of this makes me conscious of the fact that when good things happened in sports, work, creative or other projects involving me or near me I was happy and enjoyed them, I did live in those movements. Part of that means that I am still living in the moment of many happy things — one of them is that the New Orleans Saints are a great football team. I don’t believe there is anything bad about good per se. In other words it is just plain good to see good things happen. But compared to a lot of Saints fans these days I will be able to handle to lows a bit more easily.
I am afraid there is no limit to how low the lows will go however, this post has not become a list of horrors and evils. Just to list diseases, forms of violence and terrors that have claimed my friends is not enough to make this into that kind of post. I have worked very hard to accomplish very little in the big picture and I will keep trying. “Maybe”, one hopes, “life as a whole will be like being a Saints Fan. That would mean that despite many sad and troubled times of defeat there will come some times of happiness and victory that are so great nobody can question them.” That is a long hypothetical mental quote isn’t it? If the day of clear joy and goodness does not come there will still be those things I listed in the beginning that really happened. Those are similar to the better seasons the Saints had in the past before they had these last few great years. It would be nice to be happy but being sane is nice too. To keep on and know things are bad is to recognize that life has value and that if things really ever went well one could appreciate the good times better than if one had called the bad times good. I really have been and still am enjoying the success of the Saints. I wish I could afford a little more hope but I do enjoy the good moments with family and friends. I do value the good memories even if I think they are atypical.