The field is huge. Like the consciousness of human kind. Running. Running. Running. Everything is in motion. In process. Every footstep becomes another. The past becomes the present and the present becomes the past with every tick of the clock. The universe changes. Over and over and over again it changes. The intensity of play is startling. Almost disconcerting. The NBA waits until the last two minutes of the game. The NFL, well, it’s run a play and then wait. Run a play and then wait.
But World Cup Soccer . . . the intensity is sustained. And when a goal is scored . . . forget about it . . . it’s the most beautiful exhibition of exuberance that one could ever witness. Tears. Shouts. Hugs. Dances. It’s joy beyond all imagining. And the joy isn’t just for the striker or the team or even those fans in the stands. Joy ripples across a nation. Bars and living rooms and outdoor television venues explode in celebration.
“Exuberance is beauty,” said Blake, but what he should have said is that it’s contagious. Because it’s true. Exuberance is beautiful and contagious.
The soccer ball is beautiful, by the way, aesthetically pleasing in every way. An abstract painting of the universe. The desire to kick it into the net is a desperate human attempt to be at one with the world. Let’s face it. That’s what we all want. Every goal is a religious experience, because to be at one with the world, is the ultimate human dream. (Just ask Abraham Maslow.)
Yes, getting there can be tedious. I can read a book and watch soccer. I can cook and watch soccer. And write a blog too. Scores like 1-0, or God forbid, a tie, seem boring, but the truth is there’s action happening even when you’re tempted to think it’s boring. A bird on a wire flutters and beats wildly within its chest.
Yet the best part of soccer is the unity that it creates. Forget about those English hooligans for a minute and just focus on the people in the stands. You can feel the stadium move like a tug-of-war match at a 4th of July picnic. Back and forth. Back and forth. Pulling. Pushing. Pulling. Pushing. People are united even when competing against one another. It’s wonderful.
I didn’t play soccer growing up. Little League. Basketball. Football. That was it. But I love World Cup Soccer. I don’t always understand it. I can’t explain the rules of the game. But the amazing, wondrous, exotic nature of the competition makes me think about a lot of things . . . and yes, Take a Breath . . . it even makes me think about God.