Ray Allen heavily guarded

There’s no dramatic reason why I haven’t been posting much lately; it’s just that Real Life has been playing me close and in my face.

Baby grabs a rebound

Today J and I went to see the Boston Celtics play the San Antonio Spurs: my much-anticipated birthday present. One thing I enjoy about watching sports is the way a good game takes you completely outside yourself. For four full quarters, you concentrate every speck of attention on a handful of guys trying to shoot an orange ball through a round hoop. For the duration of the game, you aren’t thinking about the housework, unanswered emails, or unwritten blog-posts you left at home; instead, you and an entire arena of strangers are united in one single endeavor: Us Against Them.

In real life, both of my semesters are in full swing, so I have the usual papers to read, classes to prepare, and a recommendation or two to write. J’s been sick with the cold I almost avoided, and my apartment back in Keene is in dire need of a thorough cleaning. I remembered yesterday that it was my nephew’s birthday: too late (again) to get a card and check to him on time. None of these things are exceptional: all of them are simply Real Life getting in my face and playing my “game” for all it’s worth. Am I up for the challenge?

Powe defends Duncan

It’s easy enough to shoot an orange ball through a round hoop when no one’s guarding you, but how’s your game when you have a defender in your face talking trash? Life, it seems, is no different. I could keep up with my classes at Keene State if I didn’t teach online, and I could keep an immaculate apartment in Keene if I didn’t spend weekends with J in Newton. If I didn’t teach, I’d have have time to mail birthday cards, and if I didn’t go to basketball games, I’d have time to blog.

But how less rich, nuanced, and diverse would my life be if I eliminated any one of these endeavors? If I didn’t teach, have relationships, and go to basketball games, what would I write about? Watching any player–even a superstar–shooting hoops on an empty court is far more boring than watching a close game between well-matched opponents; it’s the competition and challenge that add both suspense and savor. If I weren’t double-teamed by the players called Time and Real Life, how boring would it be to watch me shoot metaphoric hoops alone and unguarded?

Baby covers Duncan

In today’s big game against the defending NBA champions, the Celtics relied heavily on their bench players as starters Kevin Garnett and Kendrick Perkins are both out with injuries. In post-game coverage, Celtics coach Doc Rivers explained how he prepared Boston rookie Glen “Big Baby” Davis for his match-up with veteran Spurs superstar Tim Duncan. “We had to remind him that Duncan is really good,” Rivers noted. “What we told Glen was, ‘He’s taller than you. You’re heavier than him. You’re not going to grow today.'” Instead of focusing on Duncan’s extra inches, Doc Rivers suggested, Davis should focus on his strengths as a wide-body: “[B]ecause you have a low center of gravity, get into his legs and try to push him off the block. You can’t get frustrated.'”

Everyone occasionally needs a good coach to set them straight, and Doc Rivers is as good as they come. As much as I’d like to school those double-teaming defenders called Time and Real Life, I’m not going to grow any extra inches, an extra brain, or an extra grading eye today or any other day. Instead, I come back to my center of gravity, settle into my own legs, and try to push Time off the block. Given the multiple demands of Real Life, I can’t get frustrated.

Click here
for a handful of mostly blurry photos from today’s game, including several showing Red Sox first baseman Kevin Youkilis watching court-side as the Celtics beat the Spurs 98 – 90.