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Avoiding temptations on the road

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Well, it’s coming up to 15 months since I have seen my football team win a game. I haven’t been sucked in to watching the ‘easy’ wins that have come our way since my return and we have lost all 50/50 games in that same time.

I’m supposed to be going with a mate to see the Hawks in all probability de-stroy my Bombers this Friday night. I am currently in the midst of 3 days off work in a move which could be labelled a ploy in order to get off out of the pulverising brutality at Etihad Stadium. Just don’t tell my boss.

I am dangerously close to a reversal of the great 2000 season where I didn’t see us lose a single game. If that happens, stuff it, I’m watching us against the Tigers in Round 22. Oh please … don’t let us lose to them.

Two month anniversary today!

Being the two month anniversary today of my return to sport, I have seen that even when you have gotten your primary distraction under control, whether it be sport, shopping, tv, the internet, gambling or Facebook, there will be other elements ready and willing to drag your focus from what is important, such as sport, shopping, tv, the internet, gambling or Facebook!

Even last July, we came across a fellow pilgrim, who had just completed his year without American football. How did he do it? By getting into other sports, ironically, Australian Rules!

Part of Jack Kerouac’s yearning to be ‘On The Road’; the iconic surmisal of his ‘great’ road trip adventures in the 40s, stemmed from his refusal to subscribe to the cultural norms of having to consume production, and therefore have to pay for that ‘privilege’ of consuming, work, producing, repeat…

I have friends who say that I’m lucky to be working in education; and yes that it is true to be in an industry that strives to make a difference in the lives of young people. However, as well as being incredibly political, education, like all others, is increasingly becoming a soulless profession. (Just read our reports…!) Only last week in Wisconsin, one state official said that the purpose of public education was to ‘create a workforce’.

‘In workforce development, you begin at birth and end at the grave.’

I wish I was making this up.

The cultural landscape of our day also shoves us forward in a pointed direction. In Mark Sayers’ ‘The Road Trip That Changed The World’, he quotes Philosopher James Smith: ‘Every structure of culture carries a worldview and a form of teaching that shape and constitute our identities by forming our most fundamental desires and our most basic attunement to the world …’

He goes on, ‘They prime us to approach the world in a certain way, to value certain things, to aim for certain goals, to pursue certain things, to be a certain kind of person.’

Cyborg?

Now, unless, you are some kind of specially designed cyborg, you are not oblivious to the subtle and not-too-subtle leverages that are placed on ‘every structure of culture’. We, like Kerouac before us, and driven to consume, work, produce, before hitting the REPEAT button.

We are consuming, working and producing for the privilege of being a cog in the machine. And to keep us from noticing, or God forbid, from changing our behaviours and habits, the distractions and toys become even brighter and we get weighed down, as Mark Sayers reminds us, by the myriad of options that our supposed freedom has bought us. Should I live in a smaller city? Should I eat more fruit? Should I invest in the stock market? What do I think about global warming?

And these are bigger picture issues to consider. Many of us men (and some of you women too!) passively allow ourselves to get mired in the back pages of our newspapers, more interested in whether Buddy Franklin should risk his hamstring or if this year’s phenomenal USA basketball team would have a shot against the Jordan and Magic-led ’92 juggernaut than with the broader landscape in mind.

And that’s where I have found myself all too often these last two months, conquering the allure of sport but allowing myself to flirt too often with the in-depth news coverage and reading up on saturated crap and watching innumerable useless YouTube clips, not to mention tv; immersed in the very distractions I strive to publicly identify.

In sickness comes health

When you’re sick and at home, there can be some respite in the knowledge that you can kick back on the recliner, chuck in Breaking Bad or The Good Wife, some old NBA or AFL DVDs and churn the hours away.

So, with lessons from The Road in hand, I set limits and put aside the noise on Franklin or Team USA. I was able to pick up a book and learn a bit more about the first hipster movements of the 40s and 50s, see the freedom and self-discovery on ‘The Road’ for the lies that they are, and engage with the issues inherent in consumerism, the need for constant entertainment and the move towards radical individualism. I should get sick more often.* (* I feel like hell. I take it all back…)

Kerouac already looking years beyond 34, broke, and still 13 years before his passing. As for a James Dean likeness…?

Ironic

Part of the irony of Kerouac’s journey is that he was revered as the ‘modern day’ James Dean as one of the original prototypes of the experiential, travelled young person that many young Australians and Americans now see as a rite of passage. Yet internal bleeding from excessive alcohol consumption took him at 47.

How many of us, come 47, will be dead to the outside world, so consumed with our own sense of self and absorbed in the matters of minutia such as those pertaining to sport, that we will be just like Kerouac, only with a pulse?

_________________________________

A special congrats today to the number one reader and fan of this blog, on the birth of your 3rd daughter. Congrats, my friend, you will be a great father to them and a wonderful deterrent to each prospective boyfriend when they hit 16. I look forward to getting our gun licenses together…

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About petek8

Pete Evans has just finished going 12 months without watching any sport. The journey stemmed from a sense that the balance was out-of-whack with my time and my priorities. Everything seemed to revolve around creating enough time and space to fit in the last game, games, recap shows or space to surf the net for the latest numbers and analysis. The cycle never ends - one season leads into another, seasons overlap if you follow various sports and the media's insatiable appetite for a new 'story' means that even the greatest of achievements aren't heralded for more than 3 days. So I stepped away from the machine for awhile and intentionally engaging with the journey by writing about it.

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