I’m Too Busy With My Own Issues to be Happy for the Royals

Unlike the rest of my baseball-loving ilk, I didn’t watch the feel-good story of the year unfolding in glorious technicolor wonder on my television. No, I was on the elliptical machine, following the proceedings on Twitter as I preemptively worked off the beers with which I would later wash down my dinner of steak and baked potato.

Between work, a new garage door, and new brake pads and rotors on my car, I didn’t watch a single pitch of the final ALCS game. Nor did I watch the Cardinals/Giants matchup, though I listened to the game playing downstairs on my TV as I typed this. I did, however, watch the movie Brick Mansions, a remake of the French Action film District B-13, starring David Belle, RZA, and the late Paul Walker.

I had thoroughly enjoyed the original, which also starred Belle, who is best known as the founder of Parkour. But I was watching it more for RZA, who you might also know as Robert Diggs, Prince Rakeem, or Bobby Digital. But whatever you call him, just make sure you call him a genius.

You might also call me some unkind words for choosing to watch a little-known action flick over the epitome of the perfection of America’s Pastime, and I don’t blame you. But as much as I’m a fan of the game, I’m more a fan of the Cubs. And seeing playoff baseball pains me to an extent.

Still, I’ve had the game on. I even had the house to myself, as my wife and kids are on Fall Break and were off visiting my wife’s parents for a few days. So with an entire world of bachelorhood welcoming me into a manly bro-hug that was totally not homoerotic in any way, I chose to sit at home and write.

The reason is simple: I love to write. This despite the fact that I’m constantly questioning my ability to do it with even a modicum of skill or consistency. I mean, would a guy who was confident in his ability really vomit up something as florid and replete with metaphorical hoohah as this? Didn’t think so.

I’ve always been told I could write well; I even won awards in high school and college. But both of those institutions were tiny and devoid of much competition, so I failed to put too much stock in any accolades as a result. So I chose to put my writing up on a shelf where I wouldn’t be tempted to use it and risk embarrassment by so doing.

Unfortunately for you all, I eventually brought it back out. And with it came that insecurity, that feeling that what I’m putting out there for public consumption is eventually going to be discovered for the amateurish schlock it really is. I know my buddy Sahadev can sympathize with me there. Such is the burden of the artist, if I may use that term for myself, knowing as I do how much license I’m taking with it in order to do so.

Perhaps that’s why I was so taken with Ron Perlman’s new book, Easy Street (The Hard Way), which details the actor’s life and career through so many ups and downs. All the while, he struggled with his own fears of inadequacy and certain failure, knowing at times that he just wasn’t good enough even as so much evidence said otherwise.

Perlman wrote that he had to eventually meet and come to terms with his shadow-self, the person who lives inside you.

You usually perceive [the shadow] as weak, ugly, twisted, and completely unacceptable. I got to slowly and incrementally see what this little fellow looked and felt like, making it clearer and clearer why I wanted nothing to do with him. Well, after much poking and prodding, toward the end of the nineties I saw him, fully formed and in living color. He was very fat, of course. He was very weak…and he was essentially helpless.

He goes on to write that he eventually came to understand and love this shadow-self, to accept it as a part of himself. By so doing, he was finally able to master his self-doubt and to move forward with greater confidence. I know that most of you reading this, if any of you still are, are wondering just what in the hell I’m even talking about.

This is a baseball blog, not some forum for touchy-feely stuff. And you’re right, but this is me trying to admit publicly that I’ve got my own shadow-self upon whom I’m trying to cast a light, trying to get to know better in order to move forward. And I’m not alone.

We usually joke about it, but when jinxes and curses and Cubbie Occurrences are brought up, there’s always at least a kernel of truth buried in there. Because even when the team was experiencing success, there was a sense of impending doom that crept into our collective subconscious. We’re not afraid of the Cubs’ success for the sake of success, we’re worried about it for the sake of the inevitable fall that will surely accompany it.

Because, as Cubs fans, we all share a shadow-self, a weak and wretched little creature that we just can’t seem to embrace. It probably looks like the love-child of Clark the Cub and Ronnie Woo Woo, pants optional. We try to avoid looking at it, and for good reason. I mean, that’s a hideous image.

And that’s all well and good, but no amount of cheering for fellow downtrodden teams like the Royals or against such self-assured paragons of classiness as the Cardinals will really provide us with any measure of lasting satisfaction. Sure, you can tell yourself that it will, but I think we all know better.

But I’m trying to come to terms with the shadow, trying to love it in spite of its summer teeth and BO. I’m trying to love it even as I remain vigilantly aware of the fact that it might eventually try to put a chloroform rag over my face and drag me over to a windowless panel van.

That’s what the Cubs have done to all of us though, isn’t it? Regardless, I’m all in. And that’s why, despite the fact that I feel as though I’m supposed to be pulling for them, I’m only kinda-sorta happy for the Royals. I’m too busy working on my own shadows to really care all that much about someone else’s.

So that was probably a little melodramatic, but I would like to thank both of you who made it this far. I’m guessing I’ll see some personifications of my self-doubt in the comments that follow, and that’s alright. In fact, I read all the comments on my articles. Most “real” writers advise against that, but I take a lot from them, both good and bad.

Sorry to drag you along on this somewhat selfish and personally cathartic journey, but I’m glad you were there to listen, even if you were just on your phone the whole time.

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