Tuesday, August 26, 2014

here we go again...

Apparently saying "I'll help with fall ball" leads to being given a team to coach, so if anyone needs me over the next couple months, you'll have to get in touch with my invisible personal assistant to be penciled in. On the one hand, I'm excited to head back out to the fields... on the other, I was hoping to take a step back and "help" rather than "be in charge" but hey, duty calls. *straps on cape*

Hopefully this goes better than the last time I tried to coach a fall team, wherein I was essentially thrown to the wolves and verbally bullied by a bunch of 9 & 10 year olds and was miserable every minute I was there but didn't/couldn't quit because ~*integrity*~. At least I was able to recruit a couple assistants for this go-round. And a handful of the girls are returning from my summer team. It should be fun. Busy, but fun. The schedule should at least be fairly predictable though - practice 2x a week (or 3x if we really need it) and games on Saturdays. No driving all over central Iowa. No managing the league and worrying about scheduling/rescheduling. All I have to do this time is show up and coach. So that will be nice.

I'm a little worried though, in that this league is supposed to be a step up, competitiveness-wise, from the league I coach in the summer... not as intense as the travel/tournament team, but moreso than what I usually do. Therefore, I feel a bit underqualified, especially since I talked up fall ball to my summer girls to have them take their game to the next level, and... oops, they're stuck with me again. I'm not sure how to turn the dial up after so many years on the lower setting. Fake it 'til you make it, I guess. But seriously. WHO DECIDED THIS WAS A GOOD IDEA?? This was why I didn't want to be in charge. So I could sit back and learn from someone else who knew what they were doing better. Argh. Although I suppose they wouldn't have handed me a team if they thought I was going to completely bork it up, even if they were/are desperate for coaches... right? Right.

This has turned into the worst pep talk of all time.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

"But Doctor... I AM Pagliacci."

Like most people (from what I can tell), finding out about the death of Robin Williams was incredibly jarring. My entire newsfeed was full of people who were stunned, shocked, sad. I don't want to say that some deaths are more significant than others… but some are, perhaps, more significantly felt. Death happens every day – nobody lives forever, we all know that. Celebrity death seems to be different, and it's interesting to observe the reaction that follows, because it’s shocking that someone we collectively "knew" is gone. We felt like we knew them, even if we only knew their work. Usually it’s a quick memorial tweet, or a "did you hear?" and a few moments of reflection, before moving on with our lives. But when it's such a larger-than-life cultural icon, someone who defined a genre for multiple generations… it was a hard-hitting punch to the gut.

This was different. This was heavier. The world felt heavier. I have not seen so many people so impacted by a single loss in quite some time. It's a hallmark to what a profound role Robin Williams had in each of our lives; few of us knew him personally, but he inspired us, he entertained us, he made us laugh. He paved the way for other comedians, other actors, other talents. The man was a true genius, on so many levels.

I mentioned this on facebook yesterday when sharing this link (Patton Oswalt had made the reference on Twitter), but here's the full context. It's from Watchmen, but when you apply it here, it's unfortunately ironic and very haunting:
Man goes to doctor. Says he's depressed. Says life seems harsh and cruel. Says he feels all alone in threatening world where what lies ahead is vague and uncertain. Doctor says, ‘Treatment is simple. Great clown Pagliacci is in town tonight. Go and see him. That should pick you up.’ Man bursts into tears. Says ‘But Doctor... I AM Pagliacci.’"

I think the fact that it was an apparent suicide makes it even more heartbreaking. Depression is an ugly creature. It's one of the few diseases that we tend to dismiss or blame the person suffering for (can you imagine telling someone with cancer or diabetes to "just snap out of it" or that "it's all in their head"? I think not.) This is unhelpful, and this is why people hide it, stuff it away, until its often too late. Depression is a harsh reality for me. Nowadays, it doesn't come around as often as it used to, but when it does hit, it hits hard. There's really not much to do other than hang on for dear life until the light breaks through again. My heart hurts for Robin Williams, not simply because he was famous or talented, but because he wasn't able to find his way out of the darkness. He broke under the weight of living, when it became too much to bear.

It seems like we only talk about depression and mental health after a news-making tragedy. So, okay. Let's talk about it. Let's have a productive discussion on a widespread level. Let's try to understand it. Let's reach out to people that are suffering prevent things like this from happening. Even though it seems like this big intangible thing, it's not. People you know, perhaps people you are sitting in a room with right now, are suffering from this, most likely in silence. It affects more people than you can possibly imagine. What can we do? I don't know. But acknowledging it for what it is and working to erase the stigma so people aren't afraid to reach out for help... that seems like a good start.

Hugs to all of you.