Monday, August 22, 2005

keel over

Turns out that one of my Three Priorities for this return trip to Madison was of the sort that could be taken care of via a relatively straightforward phone call, and indeed it was this afternoon. Hopefully my efforts toward the other two Priorities will do more to vindicate my decision to make this trip. (Yes, I know how much everyone just loves when I'm all cryptic here on my blog.)

Meanwhile, I spent way too much the latter half of this afternoon mentally replaying this single moment in a football game I once saw where a pass was thrown over the middle of the field to a wide receiver. The pass was thrown too far in front, and the receiver dived forward and stretched himself out completely toward the ball. He did this despite two things: (1) as I am sure he could well see, it was unlikely that even with this effort he was going to be able to do more than get his fingertips on the ball and (2) as he could definitely see, there was a defensive back coming at him at full speed. I mean, he knew he had a very low probability of catching the pass and a very high probability of getting hit extremely hard, and yet, still, he puts himself in about the most physiologically vulnerable position possible in order at least to try to catch the ball. I am one of those people who varies considerably in the extent to which he allows his rational or romantic sides to dominate his cognition, but I must confess that I am a complete sucker for the idea that there are situations in which a person could play it safe but instead goes ahead and tries despite being confronted low odds of success and high costs to failure. And so, I remember sitting there in this stadium full of people and thinking that I had just witnessed this remarkably admirable act--one unappreciated by everyone else there, since all they saw was that it was an incomplete pass--and that it was sad that such a demonstration of character was wasted on, you know, just a stupid football game.

15 comments:

A+ said...

It is admirable to make yourself vulnerable in order to at least try to get the glory. And yeah, the guy got smashed to bits and didn't catch the ball. So it didn't work out this time. But if you never try to catch it, you never will catch it, it's as simple as that.

Anonymous said...

Is that metaphor for something current in your life, or are you just a sap?

Anonymous said...

Well duh.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Ang. J, dust yourself off, readjust your pads, and line up again...the next play is being called and it's coming your way.

jeremy said...

Anon 7:49pm: One should never underestimate my capacity for sappiness.

chris said...

a little like coleman's notion of "zeal" in foundations? (1) fun "problem" to study in choice and learning theory (a characteristic of persons or groups or situations?); (2) fun to enact -- to willfully "go down swinging" can be absurdly liberating. A friend once said with utter conviction (and a far-away smile), "Bring the car around. I'm going to be hurt real bad in about 8 minutes." Turned out bad, but not *real* bad...

jeremy said...

I agree wholeheartedly that there is something exhilarating about making the decision to willfully go down swinging and then going ahead and doing it.

Anonymous said...

Not to burst your bubble but I am certain that at the time of the play there was really no concious thought involved. It was a matter of instinct and reaction.

Still, the receiver had trained himself to have the instinct to always try, even when it appeared hopeless and he was going to get popped, so he deserves credit for training himself.

Tripp

dorotha said...

you just told me, in person, to comment on your blog about this. i already spoke to you, in person, about this very topic (except without the sports metaphor). anyway, to repeat myself for your public, trying is very brave and very scary and an end in itself.

remember: everyone is not making out and eating cookies. it just seems that way.

Tonya said...

Dorotha is right. Not everyone is making out and eating cookies. Some of us are making out and eating chocolate.

Really, I do think it's important to try and to take risks. There are four magnets on my frigde with quotes on them. They are:

in the long run we only hit what we aim at (thoreau)

never, never, never give up (winston churchill)

always make new mistakes (esther dyson)

in the middle of difficulty lies opportunity (albert einstein)

My friends laughed at me when I bought those magnets. They laughed right in my face. But, I see those magnets every time I open my fridge and they remind me to resist my natural inclination to be timid and shy. It helps too that (like you) I have a new attitude toward life. Mine was prompted by a midlife crisis, rather than by getting tenure, but still a new attitude can be helpful in putting aside one's fears about failure and rejection.

Besides, if you don't take chances, you may never get a chance to eat those cookies.

jeremy said...

Dorotha/Tonya: Thanks. Incidentally, I had my first cookie in many weeks on my accidental first class flight from Boston to Chicago on Saturday.

Tonya said...

We may not be talking about the same type of cookies. If we are, then that was some first class flight you were on!

A+ said...

Yeah, Dorotha/Tonya: thanks. Ang, you can go straight to hell.

jeremy said...

Ang: Thanks, of course. Sorry!

Tonya: Sometimes it's hard to keep up with all your entendres. Even more so than the dining room furniture dance moves you were showing off yesterday.

Tonya said...

Jeremy, I'm surprised to hear that you have trouble keeping up. I thought that -- of the 7 deadly sins -- lust beat out gluttony for you. Maybe the diet has skewed things.