Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Looking for Balance, Stumbling Upon Humanity

Essayist Brian Doyle brings to light a fellow in his hometown who took up residence next to the local football field. Nicknamed “Hawk” when he was a star on the high school’s football team, the fellow had also played college football and progressed into the professional football league. He’s been married and has children, started businesses yet failed to keep them going, and somewhere along the way he lost his equilibrium, became homeless. He returned to the one place where his life had been stable: the football field.

Here’s what Hawk told Doyle, as excerpted by Utne Reader from The Sun magazine:

“A reporter came by the other day, and she wanted to write about the failure of the American dream, and the collapse of the social contract, and I know she was just trying to do her job, but I kept telling her things that didn’t fit her story, like that people come by and leave me sandwiches, and the kids who play lacrosse at night set up a screen so my tent wouldn’t get peppered by stray shots, and the cops drift by at night to make sure no one’s giving me grief. Everyone understands someone getting nailed and trying to get back up again. I just lost my balance. People are good to me. I keep the field clean. Lost cell phones I hang in a plastic bag by the gate. I walk the perimeter a lot. I saw coyote pups the other day. I don’t have anything smart to say. Things just are what they are. Someone leaves coffee for me every morning by the gate. The other day a lady came by with twin infants and she let me hold one while we talked about football. That baby weighed about half of nothing. You couldn’t believe a human being could be so tiny, and there were two of him. That reporter kept asking me what I had learned, what would I say to her readers if there was one thing to say, and I told her what could possibly be better than standing on a football field holding a brand-new human being the size of a coffee cup, you know what I mean? Everything else is sort of a footnote.”

[You can read the entire article on Eureka Street.]

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