Tuesday, November 8, 2011

"Refined by the fire"

Three lines have stuck with me. They are renting space in my mind, probably deeper. The first is from John Harbaugh during a Sunday night press conference.

"That's what being refined by the fire is all about," he said it about wide receiver Torrey Smith, who dropped a game-winning touchdown before catching the game-winner a couple plays later to beat the Steelers. Refined by the fire, learning and being changed by doing it, real-time, on the stage. The bigger the stage, the bigger the fire, the greater the refining.

The second line is from TV on the Radio and pumped through my headphones while on a four-mile run last week, the longest so far of my return to running.

"There is hardly a method you know," which I thought about in terms of getting back to something. It's not about method, or technique, it's about the attempt. It's about getting out there and learning. And the going changes you. It refines you by action.

Sport isn't just about form, or study, or preparation, though all those things are a part. It's about being on the playing field. In that context, for me it's about getting out the door and running, or in the gym, or on the rock climbing wall.

I've also been diving back into William Carlos Williams, who supplies the third line for us.

"There are no ideas, but in things," from his epic and awesome Paterson, which is a constant source of inspiration and motivation for me. Tied into the first two lines, the first two ideas, you don't have "perseverance" as an abstract concept, you have Torrey Smith catching a game-winning touchdown after making a couple mistakes earlier in the game. You don't have "endurance" as an idea apart from the runner pushing him/herself beyond their limits into that reserve. You don't have "art" aside from the painting or poem or play.

Three lines, over the course of the week, each of which has stuck to me. A post-game press conference, a lyric heard during a run, a heady, memorable line from Williams. But even the lines don't exist in the abstract, they are tied to people and particular points in time. Maybe they point somewhere. Maybe it's back to the sources.

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