I root for professional sports teams in a city famous for not winning a championship in 50 years.
It’s almost statistically impossible to have a five-decade run of suckage like we’ve had in Cleveland, Ohio. That’s why sports fans in northeast Ohio collectively showcased the world’s largest erection in the history of sexual sports metaphors last summer when basketball star LeBron James announced his return to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The return of James ignited a series of events that now have the Cavaliers as the odds-on favorite in Las Vegas to win the NBA title. Probably for the next five years.
Typical fans expect major injuries to crush all of our hopes and dreams.
Sensible fans simply hope this team built for dominance will deliver Cleveland its first major sports championship in five decades.
Fans like me engage in conversation about how many championships we might win.
I’m never satisfied.
With what? I don’t know. Everything?
My poor (at worst) to middle-class (at best) upbringing shouldn’t justify my high expectations. But I have them anyway.
This dissatisfaction would manifest itself in my youth as materialism. I wanted things. I had a lot of friends with infinitely more financial resources than my family did. There was no jealousy. Please don’t think that. But it did establish a standard in my mind. A standard of living which, if achieved, would seem to indicate you’ve “made it.”
Hardly anyone has money in college. So, when I started getting my full-time job paychecks from the newspaper after graduating, I felt like I made it.
I was living in an affluent beach town on Florida’s Gulf Coast, surrounded by boat owners, country club members and owners of prime real estate. I’d feed my lust for big houses and piles of cash by walking through multi-million-dollars homes on the weekends and dreaming of life in a place like that.
That’s the recipe for making a totally pleasant three-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment three miles from the beach seem like a shitty place to live.
When we moved back to Ohio, we bought a house that would have cost three times as much in the town we’d just moved from. So it seemed awesome.
All it took was a job offer I was unable to accept that would have made me a lot of money to make my perfectly adequate house seem wholly not so.
I drive a new Jeep Grand Cherokee. But it’s not the Limited!!!
I have six televisions (and don’t even watch TV that much). But I need a new big-screen for my basement!!!
Everything is relative.
I might never have most of the things I want. But I could lose a whole bunch of things I already have and still always have everything I need.
Fortunately, my cravings are no longer material. I want to achieve a higher state of being. I want to walk a higher path.
I don’t seek things. I seek peace.
I’m intellectually capable of understanding that contentment and happiness come not from attainable things, but from within.
Even still. I want more.
Desire is Full of Endless Distances
That was the headline of marketing genius and prolific writer Seth Godin’s blog post today. I read it three times and hugged myself because sometimes that’s how much I love things I read.
Here it is:
“Just one more level on this game, she says. Once I get to level 68, I’ll be done.
Just one more tweak to the car, they beg. Once we bump up the mileage, we’ll be done.
Just one more lotion, she asks. Once I put that on, my skin will be perfect and I’ll be done.
Of course, the result isn’t the point. The mileage or the ranking or slightly more alabaster or ebony isn’t the point. The point is the longing.
Desire can’t be sated, because if it is, the longing disappears and then we’ve failed, because desire is the state we seek.
We’ve expanded our desire for ever more human connection into a never-ceasing parade of physical and social desires as well. Amplified by marketers and enabled by commerce, we race down the endless road faster and faster, at greater and greater expense. The worst thing of all would be if we actually arrived at perfect, because if we did, we would extinguish the very thing that drives us.
We want the wanting.”
Seth’s usually (always?) right. I think he’s a genius and a master of asking the right questions.
And I agree with him here.
There’s something tragic about it, too. About a life lived chasing and climbing and chasing and climbing… and never arriving, OR getting there and thinking: Shit. Now what?
I’m skinnier. But not skinny enough.
I’m stronger. But not strong enough.
I’m smarter. But not smart enough.
I’m a better man than I used to be. But I’m not good enough. And I’m now realizing I probably never will be.
Maybe I’ll never have my Rocky Balboa moment. Maybe I’ll never conquer all of my personal battles or achieve all my goals.
And there is something inherently dissatisfying about that. But it’s also honest.
And the truth is: I want the wanting.
I want to chase after the things that move me, even if it amounts to nothing more than a cat chasing its tail.
Because what the hell else am I going to do?
I want things. Things I may never have. Things that, if I acquire, might lose their appeal and have me looking longingly toward other things.
I choose to embrace the tragic purity of climbing and chasing knowing I may never arrive at my destination. That the Browns may never win a championship. That I may never have my dream home. That I may always feel like I have a bunch of growing to do.
We’re human. The real beauty is in the trying.
There. Now, I can die in peace.