procrastination moment number 63 (today)
The start of the football season always poses a challenge for me in terms of distraction from the writing task. And, on a particularly wet day like today, when I am attempting my best hermit writing effort, it is surprisingly easier to curl up on the couch for a few hours to watch a game instead.
I’ve been a fan of (the unique) Australian Rules football since I was thirteen. It was the year I first moved out of the city to the countryside, and (in the nearest small town) there was not that much to do except gossip about the strangers in school (that is, my brothers and me) and talk about football and cattle.
It was the first time I had lived in a place where I could not blend into the surrounds and be anonymous. I could not pretend to be a tree.
Karen, the daughter of a nearby neighbour, introduced me to all that is great about football. I use the term “nearby” loosely – her house was a three kilometre trek across two paddocks and through a small gully. (She also introduced me to all that is great about cricket to round out my training as an archetypal Australian sports fan.)
Karen was body and soul a sports fanatic, wearing her paraphernalia all year round (she would wear it at school if she thought she could escape the Principal’s wrath for violating the dress code), tomboy look all round complete with the short dark messy curled hair. She had one of those smiles that always looked like she had done something wrong, which is probably why she got into trouble all the time with the teachers, whether she was guilty or not.
Karen was considered an outsider, having moved with her family from Melbourne surrounds to this quiet country precinct in NSW a few years earlier - because she was not born a local. In contrast, I considered myself a fringe dweller.
Yes, I admit it, I may have seemed young to be engaging in exclusionary behaviour but I was actually much younger when I first started separating myself. Seven years old in fact – second grade – brand new school (yes, another one) – I did not utter a single word for two weeks. My teacher at the time had called my mother into school to ask her if I was mute. I just was not much in the mood for talking.
Some days I didn’t think there was too much difference between the concepts of outsider and fringe dweller but most of the time I thought there was one fundamental contrast.
I perceived one (the outsider) as personifying a person who wanted to be a part of the crowd and the other (the fringe dweller) as embodying a person who wanted to be on the side-lines of a crowd. One struggled to become a part of a crowd, the other fought to stay apart. What they had in common was not being a part of the crowd.
Whatever brought us together, she missed her weekly pilgrimage to hallowed football grounds to watch her favourite team. In the early days after she adopted me as a friend, we spent many a Saturday afternoon in front of the weekly television telecast of the game of the week. She spent most of the time teaching me the ways of a fanatical fan.
Many of my obsessive habits to this day stem from those early teachings.
I suppose talking about Karen might not be accurately described as a procrastination moment. It’s probably better defined as a moment in my life where the comfort of time spent with a near stranger provided refuge. I found those lazy Saturday afternoons shouting at the television screen cathartic. I still do.
I would almost go as far to say that it might have been a pivotal moment in my life because it was a snapshot of a time where I learned that fanaticism could take a mind away from anything that might have been plaguing my headspace.
Obsession, fanaticism, addiction – there’s not much difference between these traits and we all have them to a lesser or greater extent.
A monomaniacal child, a fanatical football fan – is it such a stretch to see that they can be stepping-stones into other forms of addiction. Surely the fungibility of these behaviours is obvious?
By the way, I am not saying that it is nefarious to be fanatical, obsessed or addicted to anything. It might be a fair conclusion given what I have written so far on these almost weekly notes but that is a harsh call to make.
I would never presume to make such judgments.
I am sometimes good; sometimes bad; never dull. And I am always easily distracted by the football...