Ball control

Travel the main street of any town in a foreign land, and struck with its novelty, you miss the ordinary – even banal, at least mundane – life beyond its edges. Today I tootled down the back streets of this middle-class Bavarian town into its ‘normal’ life, to see my friend Jonathan at his soccer

He is about to be six and is intent, nearly maniacal, about ‘fussball’. Clearly bored during the practice, he became a focused monster when the ‘game’ started. Using side and back kicks, throwing himself behind the ball to save it from going out of bounds, positioning himself properly for good plays as if seeing it from above, displaying mature lack of ego in giving the ball away – yet he scored all five goals by his team, careening away from each score to round toward the other end of the field, with only one quick look to us on the sidelines.

I stood with the mothers on the grassy verge, cheering the shots and chattering when the action moved away from us. It is one of the sadnesses of my life that I had no more than one child, and that parenthood – though I would not undo it for the world, Misty, my love – has been a journey studded with pain, absence, and separation. But standing on the sidelines with the women – a full-faced cheery gossip from Austria, talking without pause to the pinched mother of two who lacked the lineaments of satisfied desire, and Jonathan’s mom, I was feeling my way into “This could have been my child; this could have been my life” – standing on the edge of another field, another country, another game, but with the same dedication that my friend’s mother shows in going to all these events, watching the slow development of a child to an adult, of whom you must finally let go.

Perhaps the amount of pain in having a child and not having one are the same, though the joy a child brings balances the pain. But I wouldn’t have had the life I have, going from Japan to Russia and having the time to write myself silly with my little ideas. It’s not a choice – the choice has been made, but one can’t help but wonder what another life would have yielded.

I spend as much time with Jonathan as I can in the two days, both to connect and to give his hectic parents a few minutes for emails, laundry, a kiss. I wish I could give them a week, but they will never manage the life I take for granted – the ability to move freely, to follow the life of the , to write a blog and a book

I just heard that a friend is expecting her fourth child. A beautiful woman with lovely children, but I couldn’t help a brief feeling of revulsion – each of these children will use up the resources of seven Third World babies – isn’t two enough?

I call Quan to tell her I am satisfied with our life.

Still our Western society is very horizontally stratified, so that I must fight to keep the very young and the very old in my life.

Each choice eliminates a thousand others, but the Hindus say in the end we will live them all.

One Response to “Ball control”

  1. Jakob Says:

    This is exactly what I expected to find out after reading the title Ball control. Thanks for informative article

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