This isn’t necessarily baseball related, but it may well be related to everything that anyone ever does, and baseball falls under that lofty umbrella:
I’ve been following an online journal called, accurately enough, the official #1 “i am walking across america” blog. Mark Baumer is walking across America, and chronicling the journey in his own unique manner, with spits of language and peninsulas of smartphone pictures. Rarely has the heartbeat of America shown itself to simultaneously be so mundane and so transcendent, and a recent passage from the blog captured The Baumer’s struggle with that dichotomy:
Usually the time between 6pm and whenever I figure out where I’m sleeping for the night is the toughest part of the day. My body is tired and broken down. Various parts of my body are irritated and chafed. There usually isn’t a hotel or shower waiting for me. The only thing I have to look forward to is some cotton balls, rubbing alcohol, and baby wipes. I’ve cried more than a handful of times over the last twenty-eight days. I’ve cursed the whole idea. I’ve blamed the world and its deadness and poverty that I walk through each day. In many ways I’ve let a negativity into the trip. A bitterness was growing. Boredom was overwhelming my day. I’ve decided a change needs to occur. I think it will be slight. Not to sound conceited but I think a lot of it has to do with believing in my own greatness. I am ready to eat america. I’m tired of nibbling. I’m through with conversations that suggest in even the smallest way that I won’t succeed. This trip is no longer a grind. Every footstep laid to the earth is a work of art. Each breath is a lifetime of meditation. America has climbed on my back to topple me but I will carry her as I walk across itself.
Damned if we aren’t all struggling to walk across something with the feeling that it wants to eat us up. Trying to watch baseball every day, and to write about it here and elsewhere, I feel like it’s baseball that’s trying to eat me up. But, to advance The Baumer’s thinking, I am the one that wants to eat it.
For me, it’s a matter of portions. You bite off not what you want to chew but what you are able to chew, optimistically. For me, that often means that the local team takes precedence over an hour of highlights in the evening. It means, maybe, that I check out the amateur draft in the day or two ahead of time, but leave the rest of it to the pros for the remainder of the year. It means that like a good, conscientious omnivore I sacrifice the global for the local. But within that local population, I deign to eat big, to savor the routine and the depth of knowledge; to specialize with gusto.
A walk across the country is as much a conceptual journey as a physical one, but the concept is at the mercy of the reality, which is decidedly microbial. The larger experience–the capitalized Journey Across America–is still only an accumulation, a culmination, of each smaller experience: the odd burger shacks and the ten minutes of anxiety before the trip begins, the empty stretch of highway and the strip mall and the footsteps. It all adds up and nothing that’s big wasn’t at one point little.