Tuesday, June 12, 2007

A Rambling Goodbye For Now

This evening I finished rereading John Wyndham's Day of the Triffids. In between reading several other books, including a couple of old (70s) football coaching books and Manchester United: The Betrayal of a Legend by Michael Crick and David Smith, as well as the beautiful, sensitive Carson McCullers' classic The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, I ploughed through Wyndham very quickly. I admire his direct simplicity, barely messing with adjectives and spiralling subclauses. He's good. Maybe it's a good one to read to Jacob.

Afterwards I walked to the shop and on the way home stopped in the parking lot of Coles and smoked a cigarette by myself, in the cool and the space of the night. The main problem with Wyndam's imaginative discussion of a lost world trying to rebuild hope and sense, is he didn't mention - not even once - the fate of football, and nor did it occur to his fledgling society to get a bloody kick-about going. Never mind.

I've sort of stopped blogging already I guess. At first it was procrastination, then just too much to say and a lack of time, but now I'm facing the reality that I've moved on from dedicating all my intellectual energy to the beautiful game. I want to do a translation and commentary of the gospel of Matthew, I want to write a novel about Brisbane during WWII (yes, there is a soccer game in it between Australian and American troops), and I also want to write a book about the philosophy of Murray Bookchin, who passed away last year.

So I want to read a lot more, as I have been, outside of soccer, and meanwhile my job is taking on a new dimension which will keep me much busier there as well.

This is no goodbye to this beautiful game which has thoroughly infected my life. Call it an integration. I still am assistant coach of Jacob's team (they won their last game 4:1 and are at the top of their table), when I can I kick-about on Sunday afternoons and train and play with West End United, who I should say are doing perfectly terribly. And I still love following the football media, collecting and reading obscure books about football, and generally wearing my love for the game on my sleeve. I'm sure I'll be commenting on some of the wonderful blogs now established from time to time.

But here's a thing, and excuse me if I get a little personal now. Last year was one of the blackest years I've ever had. Early in the year I reached a very ugly depth of depression, and it barely got better for a long time. My previous job had fallen apart in stress and personal anguish and feelings of failure, I still boiled intermitently about my failed relationship with my ex-wife, and a love affair that had been on-and-off for a couple of years had become a passionate but destructive catastrophe. There were very good friends, but I'd reached the point that I didn't know it, and thought I was alone.

When I started getting into soccer more, through Jacob's team, watching the World Cup, and then beginning to go to A-League games, and finally starting this blog, I was unemployed and didn't feel there was much else. It lifted me. I have it to thank for so much, all indirect, but all real.

When I woke up one morning and decided to get a new job I thanked football. That sounds silly now, but at the time it was the clear truth. Football gave me something collective, fun and meaningful to engage with. It gave me a reason to love my self, my body and my community. It gave me a fantastic way to be a father. And it brought me to this morning where I realised I needed a job.

So that morning I wrote a resume, had a shave and a shower, went to the train station, via the hairdresser, and went to town. In town I had my resume printed up, along with a reasonably flattering photograph of myself, made copies, bought envelopes and paperclips, and over a coffee assembled my strategy. I went to every bookshop in town and distributed my stuff. Archives was not the first I went to, but only because Borders was on the way. Ross, who owns Archives, has to this day not read my resume. He just employed me on sight. The universe was dancing.

Things have kept moving along and now it looks like books are my life for the forseeable future. I love them, and yes, I especially like collecting football books.

And what an adventure and a joy 2007 has been so far. Books at work and football outside of work, and apart from some dear friends, no women. I'll leave the question of how much the last point has to do with my current happiness open. But touching wood everywhere, the year has gone well from New Years Eve onwards.

Ok, I'll be even more indulgent and relate New Years Eve. There were only six at this party. (I remember being invited to the party via a phone call when I was over at John's place watching an A-League game.) We all took some party tablets (just pretend that's a metaphor), and I was getting to know the few people I hadn't met before. There was a girl there. I can't remember her name now but I was barely asking her what it was when she looked up at me with these quite beautiful big brown eyes and said,very matter-of-factly, "Uncross your arms." I did, and for want of another, I called it a New Year's resolution. That, of course, is a metaphor, but it was a powerful one at the time and I've stuck with it. To just try to stay open, like maybe I hadn't been since breaking up with Jacob's Mum. To just dance. That's a metaphor too - I'm not really much of a dancer.

I've had dark moments this year. Occasionally I've had a touch of that insomnia and mental anguish, but now I seem to breeze through it, give myself a little talking to and move on with a sort of laughter.

Truly, I thank the football gods, and football will stay with me forever as a source of meaning. It is in all its arbitrariness a collective biophilia, a universal language, a reason to engage with community and indeed the whole world. It can bring down tyrannies, give children values and communities structure and purpose where they are otherwise alienated urbanities, and even play a role in the emancipation of women in places like Iran. I'm utterly convinced that the two biggest forces which led to the undoing of Eastern European tyranies was soccer and popular music. Blah blah. Sorry, this really is indulgent.

But to my very limited but deeply valued audience here, this is farewell. I do have other things to do, which I also love, and football has helped me to a place where they all seem feasible again. This is not a farewell to football. For me it is a fulfilment of the journey, a moving along with football now integrated into my being.

For once upon a time, as a good Left-wing political hack, I properly despised sport and its waste of resources and human energy when there was so much wrong with the world. I was wrong about that. The wrongs of the world need sport. It needs to be organised team sport which we can play universally. And football is the best game.

9 Comments:

Blogger Cecilia said...

So long, and thanks for all the fish.

Best of luck with everything Hamish!

:)

June 12, 2007 11:23 pm  
Blogger Dane said...

Yeah good luck mate. I have enjoyed reading your blog over the time. Good luck with everything... well except when you guys are playing Sydney ;)

DANE

June 13, 2007 12:10 am  
Anonymous Wes said...

I wish you all the best Hamish and I will definitely miss your posts and especially your tipping competition.

June 13, 2007 11:33 am  
Anonymous wayne said...

damn you write well...so get cracking before you get too happy and can't be bothered any more, ok!
seriously, you have given me a word to live by, and when anyone asks where it came from, I just say "Hamish gave it to me"...vale, my biophilic friend. Do leave a message around the traps, ok?

June 14, 2007 8:28 pm  
Blogger Mike Salter said...

All the best Hamish, I'll miss your musings. Understand completely, BTW. I'm sure there'll come a day when keeping up with TFT gets too much for me, one way or another.

Gawd bless football, eh? :-)

June 15, 2007 7:27 am  
Blogger The Round Ball Analyst said...

hamish, hamish, hamish, so sad to read you're on the road, so glad the round ball played a role in it all...will miss your perspective for sure...

All the best with it, stay in touch and do hope to see Jacob decked out in Socceroos green and gold down the track..

Be sure to touch base when in Syd.

June 15, 2007 5:49 pm  
Blogger Hamish said...

Thanks everyone for your well-wishes. Needless to say you've all made the experience of getting into football so much more enjoyable.

Cecilia, my anxious news is that this afternoon I'm playing goal keeper for the first time in a real match. I'm freakin' an' peakin'. Our regular goalie has hurt his hand so he'll be on the wing in my normal position. Sean the manager sent out an email looking for a volunteer and I stupidly sent one back saying, "call me a desperation plan." The next morning I recieved the email, "Dear Desperation Plan..."

Maybe Wes, I'll still do the bloggers' tipping competition with the new A-League season. It doesn't take up much time and is fun. But if I do, I'd like Cecilia to join in too! The prize will be a bottle of nice wine, unless Jacob wins in which case it will be some other treat.

Cheers everyone, and indeed Mike, Gawd bless football.

June 17, 2007 9:52 am  
Blogger john said...

Thanks Hamish.

Keep going at life.

John

June 17, 2007 10:36 am  
Anonymous watt said...

Your blog was very interesting. thank you.

Cannot wait to read the book about Bookchin.

June 27, 2007 11:23 pm  

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