Earth Views

I stepped closer. I stepped further away.

I squinted.

There’s something here. This is not your standard, rusting, industrial trash-bin.

Look closer.

Ahhh. There it is.

It’s a shoreline.

A scorched shoreline at the edge of a prehistoric desert.

As my imagination flickered and spun, I could see it closer.

I could see the foam washing up against the red stone shore.

I could see the ocean water darken as the ocean floor falls deeper.

I could even see the pelicans swooping down, nose diving for their morning catch.

A wandering imagination is the back door to new worlds.

Go ahead and open it.

News eyes to see

I wanted to snap a compelling picture. Bring an old football boot to life.

This picture had hope, so I showed my boo. She gave it the iphone thumbs up, but her text message that followed made me pause.

“It looks like a heart.” she said.

Suddenly, I was no longer looking at a football boot.

Instead of studs, I saw aortas. Instead of stitching I saw capillaries. Instead of fake leather I saw flesh and muscle.

This is the power of sharing your work. The person you share it with, can let you see through their eyes.

Who we all want to be: Our imaginary-self.

Deep roots

We all have that ideal person we want to be.

That imaginary, idealized person who drifts into our daydreams during a Wednesday afternoon budget meeting.

This imaginary-self is usually a mix of various people you admire. And everyone’s imaginary- self is different.

Some are a cross of Conan O’ Brian, Beyoncé and Martha Stewart.

For others it’s a mix of Joe Rogan, Bill Gates and Morgan Freeman.

And for others it’s part Frank Lloyd Wright, part Tony Bennett and part Jane Austin.

But my imaginary, idealized person? My imaginary-self?

A bear.

Robert Macfarlane describes him with incredible detail in his book Underland: A Deep Time Journey

There is something of the polar bear to Bjørnar: there in his powerful physique, his heftedness to the north, those white eyes, and of course in his name: Bjørnar, the Bear, from the Old Norse bjørn. He is an intense, intelligent presence; a person you would want fighting for you and would dread as an enemy. He is not without self-regard, but I do not begrudge him that.

There is also a strong mystical streak to Bjørnar: unexpected perhaps, in a man whose working life compels him daily to such pragmatism and self-reliance. But – as I will learn – Bjørnar looks often through things: hard into them and right through them with those pale eyes of his. He looks through people, through bullshit, and the through the surface of the sea.

Robert Macfarlane, Underland: A Deep Time Journey, pg 292-293, Chapter: The Edge.

A heftedness to the north.

A powerful physique.

The ability to look through the surface of the sea.

Add relentless, creative, box-to-box midfielder to the list and my imaginary-self’s profile is complete.

What traits does your imaginary-self possess?

And now some:

Wordsmithing –

Heft - n. chiefly N. Amer. 1 weight. 2 Ability or influence. 
Origin ME: prob. from HEAVE , on the pattern of words such as cleft and weft.

You’re all setup

Some mornings, in a perfect world, you might wake up, have a coffee, finish meditation, and say, “Okay, today I’m going into the shop to work on a lamp.” This idea comes to you, you can see it, but to accomplish it you need what I call a “setup.” For example, you may need a working shop or a working painting studio. You may need a working music studio. Or a computer room where you can write something. It’s crucial to have a setup, so that, at any given moment, when you get an idea, you have the place and tools to make it happen.

If you don’t have a setup, there are many times when you get the inspiration, the idea, but you have no tools, no place to put it together. And the idea just sits there and festers. Over time, it will go away. You didn’t fulfill it-and that’s just a heartache.

David Lynch, Catching the Big Fish, pg 125

It’s easy to read this David Lynch quote and be discouraged.

A computer room? I’m not a CEO.

Music studio? Ha!

Workshop? I don’t even have a garage.

But be encouraged and remember:

Your setup could be a composition notebook you carry. Or the Pages app on your iPhone.

Maybe it’s the back corner desk, near the history section at the library. It could be the kitchen table after the apple juice and rice is wiped off.

If you do have a workshop, studio, or office, than make use of those places. But if you don’t, use what tools and space you do have.

Then go, go bring your ideas to bear.

Why copy the Dutch? They know how to listen.

Sound judgement

In my 20s, I was an aspiring football coach. Not gridiron, but football-football. Soccer.

The first night of a weekend long D license course opened with an enthusiastic instructor. An A licensed coach who began the evening with a rant:

“We try to copy all these countries. We try to copy the Dutch. I don’t know why” he said. “Holland has never won the World Cup!”

This sparked some laughter and heads nodding in agreement. Even I, quietly agreed.

But then years later, I came across this passage in Brilliant Orange:

Sculptor Jeroen Henneman believes, ‘With the Dutch, the beauty is in the pitch. In the grass, but also in the air above it, where balls can curl and curve and drop and move like the planets in heaven. It is not only the field. The folding of air above it also counts. That is why the Arena stadium is so horrible. It is ugly and it seals off the heavens.’

Cruyff has been known to pass footballing judgement on the basis of sound alone. Ajax historian Evert Vermeer remembers him criticizing a player’s technique while looking away from the pitch. ‘He said: “His technique is no good.” “How can you tell?” Cruyff said: “It’s obvious. When he kicks the ball, the sound is wrong.” ‘

Henneman reckons that without knowing it, what the average Dutch footballer wants ‘is silence, a kind of quiet on the pitch, to feel the beautiful green grass and fresh air and the passes he receives. When you kick well, you have to touch the ground, to dig a little under the ball as in a golf shot. And you hear it. And it is nice to hear.’

Gerrie Muhren agrees: ‘Wind is the biggest enemy because you cannot hear the ball. You have to hear the ball during the game. You can hear from the sound it makes on the boot where the ball is going, how hard, how fast. You can tell everything.

Brilliant Orange, By David Winner, pg 135-136

Yes, coaching instructor from 12 years ago, that’s why you copy the Dutch.

I agree, all our youth teams don’t need to play 4-3-3. We don’t need to save-as the Dutch Vision of Youth Development presentation. Or even grow beautiful Tulip fields.

But what is worth copying is the Dutch appreciation of individual technique. An appreciation that goes deeper than foot placement, or how a players head is tilted.

It’s an appreciation of technique so precise it’s audible. Coaching at a place where you’re hearing the correct technique.

Next time you’re at a youth practice, or your daughters match, listen.

What do you hear?

John Porcellino’s time machine: From Lone Mountain

This collection of King-Cat comics is a time machine. Not a whirling pod that splits atoms and breaks open new dimensions, but instead a glimpse of John Porcellino’s life in the early 2000s.

As I read each page over and over, I found myself playing this game. I call it: Where was I when?

Here’s how it goes. At the bottom of a comic it may read MARCH 2005.

From there I light a swisher sweet, jog with my memory, imagine, and ask the question, where was I in March 2005?

Was I failing college algebra again?

Was Episode One still the dopest movie ever?

What were my go-to pair of Nikes?

It’s a fun game. Try it at home. But it does make me wish I kept record of those days. A journal, a heart and key locked diary, or, then it’s it heyday, a blog.

We can’t change the past, but we can revisit it. Even if it’s a bit blurry.

Buy your very own time machine here!