Day 28: Aurora, CO

Here I sit all bleary-eyed, the morning after,
trying to make sense of the previous evening's events,
and wondering if there is any sense to be made
of anything, ever, and questioning the essence of
winning and losing.

It has been observed quite rightly that
"every dog has his day" and that
"even a blind squirrel finds a nut"
and that given enough time
a hundred monkeys with a hundred typewriters
will eventually rewrite Shakespeare.
So, Alfie, what's it all about?

After the previous evening's Mikie-destruction derby,
I resolved to play only one ball at a time,
and to start fresh, forgetting the past,
letting go of the future,
not needing or wanting a win,
just playing the game in the Here/Now.
Only This Ball.

I got a haircut, did some laundry,
and listend to my self-made hypnosis tape
just prior to our rematch scheduled for last night.
My mind was clear.

Samm and I met up last night at "Rack 'em" in Aurora,
a fine billiards establishment with lots of
honest Diamond tables, with challenging pockets.
First on the agenda was a race to 7
in the US Amateur format (8 and 9 ball).
I got off to a good start, and it stayed that way,
all the way to the ultimate ball,
which I rattled in the jaws,
which, if I had made it would have given me
a most incredible 7-0 win
over a most worthy opponent.
But that 9 ball just sat there,
deep in the pocket, but still not dropped,
making everything that came before it irrelevant.
Samm dropped the 9 and went on to win the next 2 games
before scratching on an 8 ball,
giving me the win at 7-3.

After the match,
which progressed without a word between us,
I had to admit to Samm that her absolute rock-solid
composure is extremely effective.
There was not a single change of expression,
nor a single display of any emotion whatsoever
from her during the entire set.
This is most intimidating, even for a player
who is winning 6-0 with a shot on the game ball,
and that could very well be the reason I missed it.

So, Samm, what you have shown me is
the art of doing nothing,
the strength of quiet,
the power of composure.

I had noted this style of yours in
the matches we played the previous evening,
and I was determined to reign in my emotions,
and was generally successful, except
for once when I miscued after running
thru a rack of 8 ball and getting perfect
position on a very tricky shot,
and it was then that I lost my composure
and blurted out something stupid and irrelevant,
which only serves to reduce my own power
and increase the confidence of the opponent.

I came here to learn.
I sure hope I have learned to keep my mouth shut.

Again, on that very topic,
I was reminded that even in victory I have much to learn.

I was born and raised in Philadelphia,
shot my first pool there at Willie Mosconi's place
near my high school.
Philly is a trash-talking town.
It's what we do, it's who we are.
Bluster, bravado, bluffing, smack-talking...
it's all the same.
We do it because we learned it in the streets.
It's a survival tactic, I suppose.
Think Rocky, think Muhammad Ali.
This means that we talk smack before a match
to get over, to get an edge on the opponent,
and we talk smack after a win, rub it in,
to demoralize the opponent in case of a rematch.
And when we win, we glory in it, we bathe in it,
we wallow in it in a most disgusting,
but very Philadelphia way.

And here in Aurora, on the last day of July 2006,
our two cultures collided, and Samm showed me the way,
reminded me that there is a more perfect way to win.
With composure, with style, with grace, and with compassion.
Especially compassion... knowing that on any given day
even a dog like me can win, if the planets align,
my opponent is having an off day, and
the balls roll favorably for me, not her.

How much of any win is the result of personal power
and absolute control of the situation?
Does any single win prove anything?
Or is it just a moment in time, of no importance?
Is there any value in a victory dance and trash-talk?

Or would it be best to simply let it all go
and remind myself that on another day, another place,
the tables will surely turn, and
it would be best if I simply kept my big mouth shut.

I can hear my father's voice,
telling me this as a wee lad:
"You can't learn with your mouth open."

This is a most excellent opportunity for me to
grow by playing and watching closely a true champion.

Thank you, Samm.

During some quiet moments on the road
I get the chance to check out some pool-related sites
and here's one of the more fun/interesting
on the subject of snooker:
"Adventures of a Northern Snooker Hero"
I found this site after seeing that a lot of hits
were coming to my site after being referred by his site.
Check it out. Funny, no-holds-barred style of writing.


Samm said...

Thank YOU, Mikie... YOU are, by far, the most generous, selfless person I know and A LOT of people can learn from that. That's bigger than any pool game.

Robert Johnson said...

I am enjoying your blogs much, Mikie. (Yes, and yours too Samm.) In the sense of teaching respect and class, you are "paying it forward" a bit (as you mentioned earlier on your road trip).

Robert Johnson said...

And will you ever tell us about that "Magical Event" on Day 10?

Anonymous said...

Dear Mikie

Thanks for the mention of my humble blog. I find reading your posts have become a daily 'must do' as you are doing something that I've longed to do - travel around the US meeting new folk & playing pool (and snooker of course)

Anyway keep up the posts - I'm riveted!

Cheers & Beers