Growing up, one of my favorite things to do with my Dad was to go to Cubs games. And not just because it meant hanging out with my Dad, and also in spite of the fact that when they played the Phillies, my father rooted for them instead which resulted in things being thrown at us. I can’t decide if I liked doing this in spite of or because of the time when I was thisclose to catching a ball, some dude behind us grabbed it from me, and my father went into an invective that seemed to last for DAYS about what kind of putz someone was for taking a fly ball from a little girl. Probably both.
Even though I left Chicago over a decade ago now, I remain, and always will, a diehard Cubs fan.
If you assume I care at all about baseball, or even understand how the game is supposed to be played, you may be wondering why.
I have my reasons, but one of them is that the Cubs provided me — and provide me still — an amazing lesson in owning your suckitude. The Cubs never really acted like they sucked as much as they do, nor did we or any of their other fans. Sometimes it was fun just to see what new, creative way they’d blow a game: they have never seemed to run out of ways to do that, which strikes me as its own genius, really.
Every now and then, the Cubs would actually win or at least actually play well, and that was awesome, I suppose, but I feel like the times when that happened we were all so busy looking for pigs flying overhead or the four horsemen of the apocalypse that we, Cubs fans, were always distracted enough to not get the full impact of the amazing lack of total failure.
The Cubs, especially to me as a kid, made sucking actually seem kind of cool. Like a rebellion, in some ways — Oh, winning. That is so last year. And the year before. For everyone else, anyway. It’s cheap to be a winner: we aim to LOSE, because we are THAT MUCH COOLER THAN YOU. — but mostly they sucked, and then the next game, they got back out there and they kept playing. And that’s been how it’s been for the whole of my life. Players keep actually joining the team and seem to be excited about it. Fans still fill Wrigley, and the jeers and cheers are full of equal amounts of love. The Cubs seem to basically give suckitude a hug, a kiss, slap it on the ass than have a beer together. I think that’s pretty super-amazing.
I’ve been thinking about the Cubs lately, because I feel like I forgot these lessons in sucking they taught me so generously. When I was younger, they informed a lot of what I did. I think, because of the Cubs, no lie, I was a lot more fearless than I would have been otherwise, and a lot less afraid to try things I might lose, fail or just plain suck at.
Lately, I feel like I have been failing a whole hell of a lot. Heck, last week, I had a much-needed staycation planned, and I even managed to louse that up. One assumes there are no grades given for recess because no one could possibly fail recess. Clearly, those school systems have not met me. I totally failed recess last week.
I keep feeling like I’m watching some of the people around me excel at things I have tried and tried to do well, but either failed at or…well, failed by my ridiculous standards. Mind, some of these things are things where I just wouldn’t be down with, or have time for, doing the same things to have that same level of achievement. Others are things where someone else is simply more invested in winning or succeeding at them than I am. But with other things, those conditions don’t apply. Some of these things are things I very much wanted to do very well with, or well with consistently, and tried the same things but got different, less awesome results.
Blue, because Blue loves me and is lovely to me, says I’m being too hard on myself. That may well be, of course, as I’ve a bit of a reputation for that sort of thing. A couple other friends of mine roll their eyes, and with love, not malice or dismissal.
At the same time, my standards are my standards, and sometimes they aren’t actually higher than other people’s standards. By whatever yardstick we’re using, I feel like I keep failing and have failed a lot in the last year or two with a lot of things.
What I want, though, is to be able to allow for that. I want to have it be okay for me to fail sometimes, or even a lot. After all, I try a lot of things, constantly, unceasingly, so it’s not like I can be amazing at all of them or amazing at them all the time, nor should I have to be. It needs to be okay — with anyone, but most of all, with me — for me to suck. Ideally, I’d like to get to a place where it’s not only okay, but I can have a Cubbish sort of Zen about it and actually embrace sucking.
I mean, it’s not like messing up, or not hitting the highest bar or just being meh at anything doesn’t have its benefits or offers us nothing. It offers us plenty: humility, patience for ourselves and others, compassion, humanity, humor, and the ability to have a life that is about something more than achievement or whatever we count as success. It keeps us playing the game, as it were, to play the game; to be in the process, not the product. I’m sure it offers more than that, those things are just off the top of my head, and I’m not where I’d like to be with it yet, remember. I feel confident that when I get to that enlightened place where feeling like a failure is nothing close to the end of the world, a place of ass-slapping comfort, good cheer and one more reason to just keep going back out on that field, picking up that bat, and trying again, I’ll have a lot more benefits to report.
But in the meantime, I kind of suck. And dammit to hell, I am going to get okay with that being the case sometimes if I’ve got to fly to those now-unaffordable bleachers and make myself positively sick on cotton candy, cheap beer and completely misplaced optimism towards a team doing well that never has to make it happen.