Tale Of Two Teams…

In the 1st grade, I played for 2 baseball teams. One team, the Oaks, was structured. We had a coach, uniforms, space at the municipal park, good equipment, officiating, monthly dues, a specific pecking order of players, and parental pressure. Our competition was assigned to us. On my first day with the Oaks, I didn’t know most of the players.

My other team didn’t even have a name. We had no schedule, we had to find, or create our own space to play, had rag-tag equipment, and a loose pecking order of players which rotated – depending on who might be available to play.  Though we occasionally had new players join us, the concept of the team was born because we all knew each other, liked baseball, and wanted to play.  Of competition, we had to seek out our own – similar groups of like-minded, anxious boys, fighting off the ailment of boredom. Leadership manifest Darwinian style.

Though I played hard for both teams, and many of life’s lessons were learned with each one, I more enjoyed, and feel I got more out of playing for my loosely structured friends team. I feel this way, because it wasn’t a construct – we weren’t placed within it.  We owned it.

There was creative fulfillment in assembling equipment, finding a field, seeking out competition, and scheduling our games.  Length of game, flexible rules, tools of the game, game times, and who played which position, solidified organically.

There was though, one conflict inherent with playing for two teams at once – that there were times when I had to choose which team I was going to play for, on those Saturdays when each team was an option. Since mom and dad paid the bill for the Oaks, my requirement to play for them superseded my desire to play with my friends.  Fortunately, no direct competition ever existed between my league team, and my friends team.


Scanning the headlines today, I see myself once again as a player on two teams. The first team, the Planet Earth. The other team, Team Human Beings.  I have a deep appreciation for, and profound responsibilities on behalf of each team.  As I reflect on the baseball of my youth this morning, I’m conflicted over who I should be playing for.  This time, mom and dad don’t get to make the decision for me.

On this day, my team of Human Beings, with its new coach, has chosen direct competition – to play against my friends team — Team Planet Earth.  Since I have appreciation for, and responsibility toward each team, my temptation is to forfeit – and I think of Shakespeare…

“If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice…”

Or was it Neil Peart…?  No matter.

I am partial to the human animal, since I happen to be one, I have an inherent tendency toward that allegiance.  Sitting here though, contemplating – recognizing the Earth’s history as being far greater – far more significant than that of man, I choose that team — Team Earth.  I can only hope that 300,000,000 people will stand beside me, and switch teams.  That, or get out and vote in the coming elections to help Team Human Being elect a new coach, and a new managerial staff…  Jhciacb


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The Art Of Self…

The Learning Of Art

I struck up a conversation with an acquaintance while in town shopping for produce the other day.  In ten minutes the conversation went from spinach to politics, to religion, finally segueing into art.  I had not known he was an artist.  I asked what media he worked in; oils, pastels, water colors, pencil, etc.  That answer and subsequent conversation isn’t relevant, but the terms media and art got me thinking.

Art knows many mediums from bronze, to paints, musical notes , the written word, and even Photo Shop in this era.  We begin learning about art at a young age, often times from the crude media of popsicle sticks, crayons, working our way into watercolors, and maybe even clay by the 3rd grade.  By the time our children leave school we hope they are proficient in some form of art, and have an appreciation for its value in society.

Most quit practicing the arts they learn in school as soon as they graduate.  It seems true that during the school years, art isn’t as often cultivated or nourished at home by mom or dad the way math, science, and reading are.  Though some do continue practicing art well into adulthood, I’ll suggest for the majority, learning art is just a small part of basic education.

The Media We Are Born With

We all carry an artistic medium within us.  Not the creativity behind the art, but the media itself.  Only a small percentage though, will ever become proficient in working with this potential media.  I like to think of muscle as an artistic medium.  Muscle is quite malleable.  When worked regularly and supported with proper nutrition, muscle can boast a beautiful result.   What is unique about the medium of muscle, is that well-formed muscles never end up just hanging on a wall or sitting on a shelf.  A beautiful work in muscle goes everywhere its artist goes.

A work in the media of muscle doesn’t just get seen, it also gets seen in movement; walking tall, carrying things thought too heavy to carry, tensing more as the load increases – changing in shape as the load shifts.  Whether it’s a weight being moved in the gym, or that big water bottle being moved at the grocery store, when muscle is winning its game over gravity eyes stay fixed.  Muscle also looks good, bare or draped.  Throw a cloth over a painting and who knows what’s underneath.  Drape some muscle, put it in action and an observer can’t help but note the art.

The Majority Report

There is a lesser media to work with in the human form, and these works are far too common.  Many more people work in the medium of what I will just refer to as loosely packed muscle; body fat.  That kind of art goes everywhere with the artist as well, and when it is draped it’s as distinguishable as muscle – more so when in motion, though it doesn’t look quite as good.  A work in loosely packed muscle isn’t really a work; it’s more a result.  The result of throwing some food at the canvas of life’s problems and accepting whatever happens.  I point no finger here.  I have worked in the art of loosely packed muscle myself – multiple times.  Loosely packed muscle is the chaos of the body art world and there is nothing avant garde about it – it’s the glue and macaroni art of the human form.

Back To School

We actually do learn another art in school; the art of crafting the body.  Though PE programs have faltered in recent years due to budget cuts, as have art and music programs, PE is still a part of most public education systems.  Children are taught to exercise in school and given a chance to practice what they learn on a regular basis. Like coloring and sculpting, the art of exercise isn’t often cultivated or nourished at home the way math, science, and reading are.

A trend we have all observed is the tendency to give up the art of exercise not long after we give up art in charcoal and clay – when it’s no longer required at school.  Graduation sets in, money is pursued and the art of influencing the human aesthetic is abandoned by the masses.  Though some do continue practicing the art of exercise well into adulthood, for the majority, learning the art of exercise is just a small part of basic education.

I’ll Take A Medium Please…

Wherever one falls on the fitness spectrum, I encourage everyone to think of the body more as an artistic media; a canvas to be worked on and presented to the world.  It doesn’t have to be a masterpiece, just a work in progress.  Dedicating a little time to it each day can yield a better functioning and more attractive product.  Exercising the body – practicing the art of muscle modification is much more rewarding than gluing popsicle sticks or coloring between the lines established by others.  Working in the media of muscle is personal.  With consistency, the artist’s abilities will advance, the media will improve in form, and like many works of art, will increase in value over time.  Be well.  rc

Please check back in 2 weeks to see what happens when I push the stop button on the blender in my head.  Oh, and there is this from Bob Walkenhiorst.  Baseball season is upon us.  Let us not forget the past.  Enjoy…