The religion of football

Religion comes in many forms – Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism – and then there is football. September is finals time for Australian Rules Football (AFL) and it is at this time of the year that this religion comes into its own, for it is a time all football fans celebrate the essence of togetherness, the discipline that football teaches.

AFL is followed by more fans than any other sport in Australia. It is the primary game we play in winter, and was originally derived by cricketers who wanted to play a sport that would keep them fit in the off-season. The people flocked to the game and it became the greatest of all spectator sports.

It attracted young men with a future that seemed all but lost before football came to town

Yet what type of spectator did this new-found game attract? It was the kind of game that gave young men a chance to pick themselves up from the ashes of unemployment and wealthy businessmen the ability to provide those young men with a future that seemed all but lost before football came to town.

It gave ordinary folk the chance to come to the game, sit in the pricey seats or stand in the standing-room only area, paying little to mix with those from a different background.

And there’s the rub.

AFL is a game that does not recognise colour or creed

AFL is a game, even today, especially today, that does not recognise colour or creed. It does not care whether you are black, brown, yellow or white. It has no concern whether you come from the rough  end of the sticks or the wealthy suburbs.

And neither do the spectators. With standing room a thing of the past, there is nothing left (other than the corporate boxes) to divide the rich from the poor. There is as much of a chance that the man or woman, adult or child, sitting next to you could be your best friend as they could a perfect stranger or an enemy in business, They may come from the other part of town, or a different town altogether. They could as well be a merchant banker as they could a carpenter, a retailer or a teacher. The child sitting in front of you could as well be educated in the public school system as he could the most toffee-nosed private school in suburban Melbourne.

These players have names like Christian Petracca, Travis Varcoe, Lin Jong, Mason Cox and Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti. They come from many and varied backgrounds, like the spectators watching their every move

Looking out to the field, the 100,000 fans see the players, running up and down, kicking and chasing, hand-passing and following, marking and celebrating a goal. These players have names like Christian Petracca, Travis Varcoe, Lin Jong, Mason Cox and Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti. They come from many and varied backgrounds, like the spectators watching their every move.

Petracca’s heritage is Italian, Varcoe Indigenous Australian, Jong is part Taiwanese, part Timorese, Cox comes from the Unites States and McDonald-Tipungwuti is a Tiwi Islander. Yet they are all footballers, accepted and celebrated for their talent, ability and prowess.

The fans ring out a cheer. Their fanaticism for their team is exhilarating

The fans ring out a cheer. Their fanaticism for their team is exhilarating. They are what makes the game great. Instances abound of a full house of fans, standing, to respect a minutes silence for the fallen on ANZAC Day. Or for the national anthem. No-one kneels at the stadium that is the AFL.

Togetherness, understanding, tolerance, sportsmanship

Togetherness, understanding, tolerance, sportsmanship. This is what we worship in September.

May it always be thus.

 

NB: Go to AFL.com.au for more information on the beauty that is Australian Rules Football

But a second

Absence of a tryst to love

Does not abandon thee

From amorous encounters

In a world of make-believe

 

Absence of a single thought

Wants not a lesser being

Yet, in time one cannot become

What one cannot see

 

For sight to some means knowledge

Powered by the mind

If one be blind, does it decry

To be of lesser kind?

 

Yet absence of a sense to some

Means stronger touch and taste

A life lived but a second

Is the kind one ought not waste.

Forever in between

It matters not how hard or harrow
The hindrance that I hold
But how soft and purely supple
The helping hand I doth extol

The caressing care known as compassion
Opens the door to grace
Forever in between
Comparing looks upon the face

It matters not how rough the gaze
How tough the buccaneer
Believe him when he tells you;
Want for her when you doth hear

The sound of songbirds singing
a school chirping from the sky
Witness strength in one’s illusion –
The white breeze (or red?) will knoweth why

Flapping e’er so slightly
When care is on the rise
Deluding e’er so lightly
As the sun says his goodbye.

changing life’s meaning

Every time I find the meaning of life they change it.

That’s the title of Daniel Klein’s book, published a couple of years ago now but one I return to whenever I’m thinking too far ahead of the here and now.

You see, Klein believes that we should all be more like Snookers, his dog, that, sadly, is now only with us in memory alone. Snookers used to think about the present, not the past, and certainly not the future; a sure way to enjoy the happiness of life in all its forms, something the great philosopher, Epicurus, would be proud of, to be sure.

Epicurus is a good friend of Daniel Klein’s, Klein having written about him previously and enjoyed his philosophical aptitude over the years. His ‘brainy quotes’ have lasted since BC (Before Christ) and he is finding his way back into popularity once again. Why shouldn’t he? After all, Epicurus is the man who said;

Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.

‘Uhh’, I hear you say.

Worry not, dear friends. What Epicurus is really saying is be grateful for what you have now because it wasn’t long ago you never thought you’d get it. So don’t think about what the future holds for it might reduce the happiness to be found in the present.

Or, put another way;

Enough is never enough for the man for whom enough is too little

But that ‘brainy quote’ has a negative connotation to it and although it, too, comes from the lips of Epicurus, I’m sure even he would prefer the former to the latter.

I came across another quote this morning, from a different source altogether, my very own blog. It read;

Do we spend Life learning how to Live and the next life living the life we Learnt?

I can’t attribute this saying to anyone in particular, and certainly not Klein or Epicurus, yet I can’t take credit myself, either. Suffice to say, it has the ring of truth to it.

For the non-religious amongst us, it may be a hard ‘pill’ to swallow, but for the rest I’m sure there’s a sense of true belief in taking time to get it right just to know that this life is the dress rehearsal that gives us the chance in the second to right the wrongs we so effortlessly made in the first.

Yet for those of us that know where we are headed once we pass, (and it surely won’t be to the ingress through the pearly gates) I guess we better do as Daniel Klein, Epicurus, Snookers, and my own dog, Kahlua, would do; live life to the fullest, for we won’t see its like again.

Embrace the teachings of Epicurean thought; live modestly but well and tranquility will find you happy in the here and now. For the future comes upon us sooner than we think, and it will be the present, whilst the present as we knew it will be passed.

White – the ‘blush’ of new beginnings

Some say we must experience loss before we can truly love another. If that’s true then the two go hand in glove, like a picture in a puzzle, like the final piece of that uncompleted jigsaw. Like the face without a frown, like the red nose on the clown.

The two sit there, ever so quiet, one chair for each as the moon shines and the stars are seen in the brightest night.

“I love you,” he says to his sweetest, holding her soft hand.

“Me too,” she replies, blushing, rushing to maintain a semblance of what is real.

But this is real – now – the only real thing to her is him: a life lived with him beside her, and within.

She lived a life of solitude until then – a life never to be in solitude again. For tomorrow is the beginning of a life ‘conjoined’: brought together, forever and until…

Grey – the colour of compromise

Compromise lives in uncertainty’s world: a sense of not knowing what path one should take: to look forward with a smile or back with a solemn frown.

Who’ll guide me, who will listen? Does anybody care? I look left, I look right: is anybody there?

Trudging through the mud each day, after rain: its heaviest of all. I shout out to a shadow – hear my call! I just want that shadow to hear my voice, to listen and accept. The first to accept my point of view is my best chance yet…

Of finding my way to the whiter side of grey. I face many bends in the road that lies ahead. Yet find my way I will and I’ll live to love again. The road ahead’s the ‘whitest’ road I’ve seen.

Black -the symbol of grief

A sense of losing what, once, was held so dear: what, once, was held so close to the heart. Oh, how to live, to begin again: to start to feel life hasn’t ended yet?

But how to leave this path of loneliness? How to see a bright light shining through? How can one love again after such a loss: how can one put aside the memory of you?

Yet memories need not be e’er forgotten: they are as much a part of our soul as of our heart. Without cherished memories, what is life to us but an empty, shallow chasm filled with dust?

She

She tells a joke –

I laugh aloud

She shouts obscenely –

I agree

She wanders over to

The other side –

I laugh, aloud,

At me

Caught in life’s maze –

A puzzle solved

Caught in the rip

Within the sea

I raise my hand

For help to come

Life yet lived –

My final plea

Her shadow follows –

Windswept hair flows

Too cold, too callous

To save a thing like

Me

Yet, to win one must

At first, to lose –

Pleasure craved at mortal cost

Of her, of she

Poem – Taxpayer Thomas

Taxpayer Thomas’s wife would be on tenterhooks
Wondering what her husband’s response would be
Would he be dejected, shout and yell
Or would he dance and prance with glee

He’d toil away at a job disliked
To pay his family’s way
So he saw his refund as his hard-earned reward,
‘A reward for my troubles,’ he would say

‘Not just your way,’ his wife would add,
‘But paying for those that cannot work,
Like John & Debbie Tucker,
And poor old Nelson & Mary Burke.’

Tom’s finger pressed against the page,
Against the envelope
Pushed it open, took out the note, and said;
‘S**t, it’s gotta be a joke.’

‘Honey,’ his wife said, excitedly,
‘It’s not like you to be obscene.
What on earth can be wrong?
What can it possibly have been?’

‘Look what they’ve done,’ Tom replied,
‘They’ve added a chart to my refund check.
It tells me where my tax dollars go.
Oh, what the bloody heck?’

By now Tom’s wife was adamant
Her husband had gone quite off his tree.
He hadn’t spoken like this before,
Not since his days at sea.

The chart, it was before him
In colors blue, yellow, red and green.
Twenty-three thousand went on welfare,
He wished he hadn’t seen.

Seventeen billion dollars a year
Went on Disability alone.
He’d seen it in the paper
Yesterday, when he was home.

Tom, (well, the taxpayer in him at least)
Threw the paper to the floor,
And said to himself (as you do);
‘I can’t take it anymore.’

His wife was always careful
To see the other side.
‘How could people less fortunate
Get by,’ she said, she sighed.

‘The welfare system exists for a reason
And we taxpayers pay our share.
But at the end of the day,’ Tom’s wife thought,
‘Someone has to care.’

She quietly put her arm around
Her husband’s shoulder, on a whim.
Gently, surreptitiously,
She knew she could mould him.

Tom’s wife could feel him releasing
All his inhibitions and frustration.
He was no longer concerned, she felt,
About the social welfare of the nation.

At last Tom had come around,
He could see the other side
Until next year (when his refund came again)
And he’d have a hissy fit, and cry.

Poem – Oliver

Oliver strolled to the highest mountain
To seek out a magical sight.
It was a mountain greener than the greenest of pastures,
It spoke of goodness and light.

From the mountain-top Oliver saw the cliffs,
Far to the west they stood.
On top a four-leafed clover found
By the wee man wearing a hood.

A clover was lucky, four-leaves to be sure,
So rare that to seek and to find
Would give good luck for time immemorially,
Attached to the finder and to his kind.

A wee little leprechaun has special powers to search
For what others find barely at all.
Faith, hope and love, a three-leaf clover can give
But the fourth leaf keeps one enthralled.

Oliver the shoemaker can hide the clover away
In his shoe, and there it will stay
Until others attach themselves to the little green man
And they try to take it away.

Then the others ask after the leprechaun’s gold,
Pots of it they think he does have.
“You’ll never take it away,” the little man says.
At the end of the rainbow it’s safe.

But the wee little man could not hide the truth,
A lie he never could tell.
So he moved his pot of gold from the end of the rainbow
Down to the water well.

The Jester had listened, intently he’d heard
All that had come from the ‘crowd.’
He had nothing to add other than harmony, verse
And with that he sang this out loud;

“Roll over, roll over, that four-leaf clover
Become the leprechaun’s friend
Roll over, roll over that four-leaf clover
Can’t wait to see Oli’ again.”