I’m in a very bad mood this morning. I dreamt last night that the Sharks lost. I did not dream the whole game, just the bloody announcers telling us in that exuberant tone that the Vancouver Canucks will advance to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time in…
Fiddlesticks. That is a funny word. I imagine a bunch of sticks you are supposed to manipulate into some tidy structure like a toothpick castle, dozens or hundreds of flimsy little twigs. If fiddled with properly, those sticks could be something splendid. But they slip and slide and snap and tumble out of your grasp and never really are anything more than a fistful of sticks. It is silly and frustrating and there is no cure.
Like eating peas with one chopstick. Like five guys on ice skates trying to put a rubber disc into a net while six other guys try to stop them, each armed with one chopstick. Yet somehow this ridiculous activity it is very very important.
A person could take revenge on the sticks by setting them on fire. That might make you feel better about being such a klutz or an idiot or stubborn or whatever it is that makes you suffer over your failure to build a beautiful palace out of a bunch of sticks. It is harder to confront your demons than to just set them on fire.
Demons do not exist. Even in their most simple, plausible form, they are but memories of things that were or could be or failed to be, they are emotional responses to that which is not here, now, material or capable of action.
By definition, the past doesn’t exist either. What is past no longer is. Demons of the past are hooey, like stats and numerical probability and other stuff that lives in your head.
I still feel awful. Here I am again. Just like last month, that feeling of sitting beside the 2010-11 Flyers’ deathbed. I grasp for that feeling I had last season, when it was all over and I bounced back, fueled by little more than a demented belief that Dustin Byfuglien could be blamed for all of it.
I don’t have anyone to blame this year. No player jumps out at me as being more irksome than another. Even Tim Thomas, blast him, is too merry and adorable to be a villain even in jest. Also, I hate blaming goalies, even the other team’s goalie. The Canucks? Who among them stands out? They have their stars but none have done anything for me to hang my angry hat on. Even the diving and whining just doesn’t give me the traction I need to really loathe or despise them.
My own teams? The Sharks? The Flyers? Should I get angry at them? How, when I know very well the torment of that feeling. That Cassandra’s nightmare feeling: I can do this, I have the instructions right here, how can this be happening again? The sensation of those sticks slipping out of your hands, clattering to the floor.
They are little frustrations scattered every which way, under furniture, in the carpet, into cracks you didn’t know existed. You never find them all again but slowly one at a time, as they unexpectedly prick the soft underside of your bare foot. They are not mythic or awesome like Sisyphus’s stone. They aren’t even that. They’re just fiddlesticks.
Fire can be beautiful. Maybe a palace was never the plan. Maybe the fire is what the sticks were meant for all along. Isn’t that what coaches and players say? Simplify. To hell with flimsy stick castles, dreams, nightmares, demons and probability. Light it up, burn it all down.