Thursday, March 8, 2007

What Do I Like, Again?

I've been wondering about a lot of things lately. Chief among them is this: why do I do things?

Allow me to explain.

This summer I have the opportunity to return to Camp Moshava and spend my summer hanging out with nine-year olds. The same opportunity, offered one year ago, elicited considerably more excitement than the current one. I think this may be true for two reasons: 1) There is always some excitement which accompanies a new project, and I was armed with the added motivation of proving myself worthy/capable of the job. 2) Although some of my friends were conspicuously absent from camp, most of my co-workers ranked in the upper-echelon of my friends.

This year neither reason applies. I already--at least in my own mind--proven that I can handle the job. And most of my day-to-day friends will not be joining me. Where, then, does that leave me? Am I really excited for camp because I love camp? Have I always gone for the friends, and camp was important because it served as a conduit to friends? Do I really do anything for myself, or am I mostly concerned with what my friends think? (I told you I've been wondering about a lot of things lately.)

About a week ago, in my daily Internet wanderings, I came across a piece written by Mark T.R. Donohue for Deadspin is running their annual preview of the baseball season and invited Donohue to write about the Colorado Rockies. Here is the link to the entire piece for those Rockies enthusiasts. I'll include here only the parts relevant to my point.

The lesson of the 90's was that in the absence of a clearly defined bogeyman our culture tends to immediately begin eating itself from the inside. We're not grown up enough for world peace, apparently. I'm old enough now to have absorbed this lesson, but the psychological damage from having grown up in the Bush I/Clinton "now that nothing stands against us, watch us either remain motionless or possibly even slide slightly backwards" age persists. After an adolescence spent watching umpteen "Next Generation" holodeck episodes, viewing movies where at the end it turns out the villain ... is the hero! (like Fight Club and Usual Suspects), and goggling in disbelief at sports theater of the absurd like Pete Rose's fall from grace, the Olympic sprinter steroid scandals, and Michael Jordan's career as a Birmingham Baron, I have come to the unshakable conclusion that nothing is what it appears it to be. Since none of the information I'm being presented is the whole truth, and I can only form opinions based on the facts I've been given, this extends to myself. I'm an unreliable source. I don't know if I believe the things I believe or whether I'm just pretending. I don't genuinely know if I really like the music I like or whether I just want to be perceived as the kind of cerebral uptown intellectual type who has biographies of John Cage and Ornette Coleman displayed prominently on his bookshelf as a matter of course. I've been losing sleep lately over the notion that my fondness for Barack Obama is founded on his race and not his politics. Given the choice, I'd much rather be a little younger, and live in fear of terrorists, or a little older and fear the H-bomb. But I was born when I was and I have to live with the fact that my worst enemy is my own brain.
This is the logical conclusion of my musings on camp: how much do I really enjoy the things that I enjoy because they make me happy? You can consider such examples as The Martha Stewart Show, polka music, origami, The New Yorker, the Flying Spaghetti Monster, or anything. I have, and I haven't been able to come up with a straight answer.

Donuhue goes on to list the multitude of reasons why it makes no sense to root for this team. (Again, only interesting for people who like baseball.) But he concludes with this paragraph:

So why do I carry on with this team with no history and no chance of imminent relevance? What keeps me going to Rockies-Diamondbacks games at Coors with announced attendance of 15,000 and actual seat coverage of half that? Well, it ought to be obvious. My love for the Rockies is the one thing in my life about which I'm sure. It's pure. I have absolutely nothing to gain from it. It's not making me friends or influencing people. It's not making me happy in any lasting way, since whenever Colorado does manage to edge its way into a tie for third or creep within three or four games of the .500 mark, a 2-9 road trip through San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego must be right around the corner.

Camp might be my Colorado Rockies.

This will be my test to see if I actually like something for me. I'm hoping it goes well.

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