Walking On: On Walking

I really like walking down the alleys in my neighborhood. Like I mean I really like it.

I’ve become a regular walker, and I suppose I was always bound to be. My mother is someone who people always see walking around town, our teddy bear dog Reggie accompanying her for the last 9 years. I know people see her because I guess that’s the sort of thing people mention in small talk. My older sister, even since diving into the world of fitness, rarely passes up an opportunity to join my mother and Reggie when she’s home from out east. My father used to make a yearly pilgrimage through every street in the city, praying and meditating in his dérive. My younger brother calls home from college on Sunday afternoons as he walks around one of Minnesota’s 10,000 odd lakes.

Like most teens, the idea of walking anywhere sounded like unnecessary tedium, but I learned. I started going for walks in college, and now that I’m in graduate school without a car ambulating has become part and parcel of my existence, along with eating oats, reading literary theory, and pretending to know what I’m doing. I walk into campus for class and work, I make a weekly trip to the grocery store, I walk to church if I don’t have a ride, I wander to one or two coffee shops on the weekends, and I don’t mind stretching my legs to go downtown for some errands of varying urgency. I didn’t know in 2013 how appropriate getting “Galatians 5:16” (“But I say, walk by the spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.”) tattooed on my leg would be in the literal sense. I also didn’t know that lettering tattoos aren’t as cool as they seem to a first-tattoo-getter, but they are safe, and that matters quite a lot to a first-tattoo-getter.

A byproduct of walking by necessity has been walking for fun. I like to walk. I don’t like it if I go a day without walking. Perhaps that’s why I’ve accidentally lost 10 pounds I didn’t know I had.

I’m spending most of my summer in my hometown with a decent amount of free time, so, while teenage me would have just played more video games, I look for excuses to go for walks which transport me well beyond the streets and paths on which I tread.

I used a French word earlier, dérive, a word I know not because I’m taking French classes (which I am) but because I wanted to sound fancy in this one poem I wrote about a black squirrel jumping into a lilac tree. I take liberties with my use of translation, but to me it is a means of travel which allows for reaction, improvisation, and spontaneity between endpoints in a journey.

I like to practice this when I walk the streets of my hometown, which is just as well because, even if there are main roads in Sturgeon Bay, there is rarely such thing as a direct route from one place in the city to another. As a bonus, some neighborhoods, mine included, have a lot of alleys. So, within a short walk from my house to the public library, there’s ample opportunity to let the streets tell me where to go.

Alleys – the thin roads which run between rows of houses in the middle of a block – take me past the reflective facades of houses into the homes themselves. The backyard is where the character of a home really lives, and alleys are the paths to these secret theaters and gardens. Literal gardens, of course – the projects of green thumbs and the overgrown stalks and leaves and petals. It’s beautiful, the way people manage the plant life which so happily springs forth. I admit I’m usually a little disappointed if the yard is nothing but freshly cut grass, even if that’s a better space for frisbee and touch football. Backyards are also where people put secret meeting places, their patios and chairs, their firepits and tables with umbrellas. I see these and I wonder if they’re well-used; I wonder if the grill gets fired up for a friendly gathering or if the chairs sit vacant every day, posing in lonely hopes. Backyards are a view into garages and sheds, the rundown shelters of odds and ends and the vehicles parked on the grass that may or may not be able to run anyway. Clean, well-lighted garages boasting a new set of wheels might seem a more desirable view from the street, but I’m convinced these cluttered, dingy shacks are the natural way for us to keep what doesn’t fit in the house, even if it’s proper to hide it from view.

People can go to great pains to put forward their best self in the front yard and their porches and approaches, but the secret gardens and theaters in the back are where I think most people really live, and alleys are the paths which take me into these places which may or not be intended for me. I love to find new alleys, and I’m frustrated when I see an interesting yard but can’t get to it without trespassing, as well as when I see what looks like an alley emerging from a hedgerow only to find it’s just a long driveway. There are yards back there that I want to see and know and muse about, and it bothers me that I can only window shop instead of getting to see what the owner keeps in the backroom.

Walking – whether through alleys or on streets and sidewalks – gives me an extended look at homes that I would only ever catch a glimpse of from a car window, if at all. I love taking in the character of a home in the few seconds I get with each one. I love how the kitschy yards with faux marble Mother Mary and sassy Packer signs and generic symbols of patriotism somehow balance their gaudiness with the dignity that comes from sincerity. I roll my eyes even as I take mental photos of the expensive houses with their bright white paint and clean-swept porches, brand new SUV in the driveway with stickers for Ivy League schools. I sigh with bliss at the front yards which have been cultivated with great care to explode with flowers like a Kehinde Wiley painting from their professionally landscaped terrain. But my favorites are always the quirky off-beat homes that walk a fine line between artistry and negligence. The front yard is decorated with little rhyme or reason, overgrown with plants and mismatched furniture, and a cobblestone or dirt path leads through a rickety fence into a backyard of chicken coops and mystery. The front porch looks like someplace people might actually use, sitting and smoking pipes surrounded by stone Buddhas and metal birds. I love these houses, and I want to know who lives there and what they’re doing.

But walking helps me to know neighborhoods and the city at large as much as it gives me a view into individual dwellings. A drive along the main roads in Sturgeon Bay will take you past what you’re supposed to see, like the beautiful houses with a view of the bay or the cutesy shops in the downtown area by the bridges. But just a block back from these places the story changes, and for every nice-ass house in this town there are five tiny, tiny homes, and not in the trendy eco-friendly sense. Some of them are spruced up with pride and others look like they’re falling apart. A house that belongs in a magazine is across the street from one that was literally purchased from a Sears catalog. I don’t walk past homeless people in Sturgeon Bay like I do in Corvallis, but some of the homes I see remind me that, despite what comes to mind at the mention of Door County, the fact remains that Sturgeon Bay is a lower-class community, with many citizens living below the poverty line. Those facts can get lost along the waterfront, the site of most of the city’s political tensions about bridges and hotels and historical markers.

E.B. White said that “Everything in life is somewhere else, and you get there in a car,” which is a true fact that limits the ability to know the places we go, even the places we live. Walking – getting on the ground and being present in a space – and looking provide a path to knowing, a path which hides in plain sight.

I’m prompted to wonder how many people get to know the place they live in this way. I see so few people walking when I’m out, and not once have I met another pedestrian in an alley. I imagine I am the only person to walk down certain streets on a given day. Driving is one of the more self-absorbed things we do. Driving is a way to quickly get where we need to go, transported from our home to that place in our quiet bubble of personal space, a soundproof studio which engenders its own type of rage because how dare anyone fuck with that serenity which comes from hurtling through space in a two ton exploding battering ram. Cars let us stay safe from the homeless people panhandling and the sun-baked or puddle-pocked sidewalks covered in stains from who-knows-what. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with driving, and while I don’t own a car I drive all the time (so to speak) and sometimes rather enjoy it, especially if I’m on rural and forested Door County highways. The self-absorption I’m referring to can’t be helped, let alone condemned. It just comes with the territory, and I think the “selfish” act of driving blinds us to things we can only see, experience, know, and feel if we walk.

Walking through my hometown blurs temporal schemes and linear chronology, which serves both to alienate me and ground me here as if I never left. Door County doesn’t really change, which is the way the locals (and especially the natives) like it. Not like Boston, where I walked with my sister and her husband through a harborside area which had sprung up faster than a new line of iPhone. Progress, expansion, and renovation drive buildings skyward as that city, like many others, undergoes rapid change. But if one storefront changes in downtown Sturgeon Bay, I’m going to notice. It doesn’t seem to matter what year it is, so home has remained the same over the years of my returns, even though in the same amount of time entire business districts have sprung up in places like Boston and I have had the most transformative years of my life. Coming back to my childhood home as a young adult makes me feel just a little out of place, like anyone can tell I’m an expatriate, like I can only ever be a visitor. But, at the same time, seeing people I know wherever I go and falling into the same year in, year out rhythm makes me feel as if I never left. I wonder if this is what Gandalf feels like whenever he visits the Shire (I know he’s not from there but you know what I mean (you do know what I mean, right?)).

Slowing down to walk through the streets of my hometown, and not just the streets I’ve grown accustomed to travelling, like the ones to the school and the Y and my church and Culver’s, floods my meditations with little memories. Big memories tend to come up now and then and stay close to mind, but these little memories require more chance recollections, followed by more careful excavation of the fossil. I’ve walked past a local bed and breakfast, and the beautiful historic house brings to mind how we used to go for family walks when I was little and stop by there just to stay hello to the proprietors. They had the most beautiful and friendly Chow Chow, and they made the best damn giant cookies. Or I walk past one of my oldest friend’s houses and remember going to his birthday party and caring so much about how I played in backyard soccer. And then my mind runs through an entire filing cabinet of memories associated with him and with his family, and, for whatever reason, that makes me ponder what would have had to have been different in life for us to have remained closer friends or for me to study zoology.

Is there an inherent value to any of these recollections and musings? Maybe, maybe not, but I think it’s valuable to force ourselves to think about things we don’t normally think about, or to think about something in a different way.

Walking can also evoke big memories and prompt deep thoughts. Literally moving through a day at a walking pace affords the space to ponder and meditate in a way that can be so profound so as to create a sort of new big memory all its own. I had a moment like this just this Spring when I was walking into the marketplace down the street from my apartment complex to buy overpriced bananas and I espied my adult self in the large glass doors as I reached for the part of the door handle I thought might be touched the least. This turned into a very big moment and memory for me, even though it probably seems trivial in comparison to a memory like getting arrested or sex on the beach or getting arrested for sex on the beach. Seeing the reflection of a young man in a dress shirt and tie as I went to buy something I felt like I could eat a couple days after being sick and dehydrated ushered me into the same great gift which walking gives to the mind: awareness. Realities that I had taken for granted – namely, that I was surprisingly adult and living alone in a far away place – snapped into focus in the same way that walking draws the streets of my idyllic little hometown out of the background of tunnel-visioned assumptions. And in that moment I needed awareness more than anyone has ever needed sex on the beach.

What I have written about walking is true in some way about so much more than gallivanting to a coffee shop to write. I tend to resent overt didacticism, but I feel the need to elaborate on these applications, even at the risk of insulting your intelligence or diminishing the independent value of what I’ve said about walking. I care a lot about walking, but I also care a lot about awareness.

No matter which path you choose, you still have to walk it, and I don’t know that they always tell you that. I think our default setting is to coast through life in cars which allow us to ignore what’s around us and become self-absorbed without actually practicing self-examination and metacognition. We check out of the tedium of daily life and drive for the destination at the expense of the little details that matter. We take the quickest way on the widest path, forgetting to consider the possibilities which exist all around us at any given time, and detaching from ourselves in the hope that things might be otherwise.

Some might hear echoes of David Foster Wallace, and you’re not mistaken. It’s a simple but powerful truth: awareness is a life-giving choice.

I needed awareness this Spring. Side effects from a medication aimed at a chronic health problem piled on top of the other shit that comes with being me, which turned molehills into mountains and made for long days of wild thoughts and crippling fear. I could feel it in my chest and my head the moment I woke up each morning. It was almost impossible just to keep the theater of my mind from exploding like the one in Inglorious Basterds.

In the darkest hours, seeing, remembering, and feeling what we hold dear becomes a battle. Our safe havens of truth; knowledge which lights the lamps unto our feet; the humdrum which gives our life rhythm; the sacred love and spirit which act as our sword and shield; these all grow dim as we isolate ourselves in a prison of ignorance and fear.

In that tough time, I was reminded of the sources of strength which give me life. My friends testified to who I am. My mother reminded me of what I’ve done. My father shined a light on the one to whom I belong. His advice in tough times is always to preach to yourself. He sent me Scriptures and told me to “Mine some jewels,” which I thought sounded dope because of Run the Jewels.

I implore you to walk on day after day. I have to remind myself to do this, especially on mornings like this one as my illness feels like a thorn twisting in my side.

Remember and remain aware. Get out of the car and get out of your head. Stop and smell the roses. Seek the secret gardens. See and know your fellow human. Preach to yourself. Don’t ever think you have to go it alone, and don’t ever be afraid to ask for help.

And go for a walk.

 

 

Forth now, and fear no darkness.

Soli Deo Gloria

– Peter

Advertisements

The Meaning of Celebrity in a World of Life and Death

 

Craig Sager just died and I’m upset about it.

I know why, but I don’t understand why. I’m sad because he’s been a fixture in my sports-watching life, because he was a good man who suffered with dignity, and because he brought joy and encouragement to millions of other people like me who like to watch sports. But I don’t understand why a man I’ve never met, one man in a world of billions of people, can affect me with his passing.

Dylann Roof has been convicted of mass murder.

Justice. Yes it is justice for nine people with nine names most of us cannot recall. Dylann will go to prison for the rest of his life, or he will be put to death and pass from this world in the same way that the nine people he murdered passed on. One imbalanced young man indoctrinated into the lie of white supremacy will be punished after it is too late, and the system that created him will go on. Just as the cancer that ravaged Craig’s body went on. Just as the specter of this insidious disease continues to stalk humanity.

Craig and Dylann are a strange yin yang on my Twitter news feed.

2016 has insisted on taking. Around the world it has been a ceaseless wave of death and destruction, one disaster after another reducing the lives of people to tally marks on a grim scoreboard. It has taken from us some of our most beloved entertainers and public figures with alarming frequency. It has pulled American democracy and decency to the brink. It has eroded the truth and propagated the darkness.

Time and again it has presented us with the horrors of life and death, and the fragile border between the two.

Amid all of this death “out there,” 2016 has made me face mortality at the expense of my innocence. In July, two of my friends were swept off a pier into Lake Michigan by a rogue wave and drowned. In September, my little cousin and and a pilot fell from the sky and were killed in the randomness that a plane crash embodies.

It has been the year in which repetition has sharpened “Why, God, why?” into “Why, goddammit, why?”

I know, as James Baldwin said, “that a person is more important than anything else, anything else.” I believe that every human being, from Socrates to Dylann Roof, bears the image of God. And that is a sacred thing of awesome meaning, even if that God leaves so many questions unanswered, and even if that God seems so lax in protecting those fragile images from destruction.

I wonder about who lives, who dies, and who tells their story, and I’ve wondered, as I’m wondering today, how we so easily assign value to some lives over others, and why some deaths matter and some don’t. I wonder why we spotlight lives after they’ve been extinguished while casting shadows on lives that might still be saved. Sometimes it seems to be all an irreverent, profane, ignorant, and hypocritical carnival of emotional indulgence to mourn the passing of a celebrity, or to allow ourselves a few days of wallowing in grief when a personal tragedy strikes. It isn’t, but it’s easy to be cynical. Everyone dies. Everyone suffers. Couldn’t these just be meaningless distractions?

Perhaps in past days I would have said yes: Paying so much attention to Craig Sager’s death is making too much out of one person when so many other people die every day. I might say that it is our fascination with the individual that makes Dylann Roof the name that endures, rather than the names of his victims. And maybe, at the depths of my cynicism, I’d castigate us all for caring about sports so much that a man in funny suits could become so famous.

But it is not so this day. I think I’m coming to understand why we care about losing Craig, Muhammad, Phife, David, Alan, Alan again, Kimbo, Prince, and Leonard, and why it’s okay for us to care, maybe even why it’s necessary.

You’ve had a tough day. You and a million other people. Your job is difficult. Your boss is a jerk. Traffic was heavy. Your relationships are strained. Your nerves are frayed. The world doesn’t make sense. You turn on the news and everything is shit. War is shit. Politics are shit. The active destruction of the earth is shit. The cyclical spiral of history pock-marked by the randomness of catastrophe is shit. Your prayers feel cold and the holy text is full of more violence, or maybe your existential limbo is cold and your atheistic articles and vlogs are pretentious and arrogant. So you turn on the Thursday night NBA game on TNT. Your team isn’t playing, but that’s okay because they’re awful this year. Only it turns out that TNT for whatever reason is airing a game between two teams who haven’t made the playoffs in about a hundred years.

But then, at the end of the first quarter, your television set lights up with a suit jacket made from the fabric of a garish sofa. The man in the jacket is Craig Sager, who you’ve seen in a hundred times in these delightfully awful outfits, sharing insightful reporting before the games, and braving these post-quarter interviews with Gregg Popovich, and smiling as Kevin Garnett tells him that he’s finally gone too far and needs to burn his outfit.

You like Craig. He makes you smile.

But then Craig gets cancer. Because of course, why not?

And Craig loses weight and loses hair. He has to take time away from work. And you’re so happy when Craig comes back because you like Craig and he brings a sense of stability and normalcy. Even when everything else is wrong Craig is right, and he’s right even though he’s having to fight for his life against a disease that is causing him so much pain as it tries to kill him.

And then, finally, Craig dies.

And, in the wake of his death, you remember that other people like Craig, too. That’s why he was given an ESPY and why he received ovations when he returned to sideline reporting. You remember that other people love sports, and that sports bring us together, and that sports soothe the things that hurt. And so you all, together, mourn Craig’s death and celebrate his life, even if millions of other nameless people are dying of cancer.

It’s the same for people who loved listening to Tribe, Bowie, “Hallelujah,” and “I am the greatest!”

Craig is not a more valuable human being than my friends Adam and Kurt or my cousin Olivia. He isn’t even more valuable than Dylann Roof. He isn’t less valuable than Muhammad Ali or Gandhi or Joan of Arc. He had his own flaws and shortcomings, like everyone does. There are probably more talented reporters who have remained ignominious. But there are some people whose role in life is to be a public figure. To be someone who brings us joy, or who shares our pain. Someone who excites and instills, someone who soothes and consoles. Someone who brings about a sense of stability and normalcy, who reminds us that this is water.[1]

To have those people is a wonderful thing. To lose them is a terrible thing.

In a strange way, momentous death magnifies anonymous death. For in the passing of the renowned dearly departed, we gain a great appreciation for the crimson cord[2] that binds us together in this thing, making each life that much more important and the protection and cultivation of life that much more urgent.

So thank you, God, for Craig Sager.

And thank you, Craig, for being a part of my sports and for living life the way you did. I’ll miss you.

Forth now, and fear no darkness.

Soli Deo Gloria

– Peter

1 HT David Foster Wallace’s famous commencement address.
2 HT My brother Propaganda.

If Only this was Actually the End of the Election

“All our ignorance brings us nearer to death.”

cincinnatus

“To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time,
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death.”

We watched this thing together, and together we talked our way through it, laughed our way around it, and trudged in absurdist fury to this day, this day when the thing that went too far would go no farther. And now this thing, this collected experience which tinged every area of life, has come to its finale, its conclusion, its end.

No. Of course it hasn’t really. This is only the beginning, and we’ve known – if not all along then at least for some time – that this would not end in the ballot box.

To do this, to move along like we used to, would mean to go back, to unexperience and to unknow. But we can’t. It cannot be like it used to be – not after 2016.

It’s been a year that will go down with the other big years, the digits that evoke thoughts and feelings without any specific event mentioned, like 2008 and 2001 recently, 1968, 1929, 1865 and 1776 before, and so many more. But it isn’t just a milestone like a turn of a century or an important event  like the end of a war. This thing is, like a select few years have been, a tectonic shift in society and culture in America. Our collective consciousness is forever changed – it forever exists in relation to this thing.

For some, this is not the first such shift. It is important to them – certainly – but they have done this before. But for many, me included, this is a year, a time, and a series of events unlike any other in its seismic effect on the way we see and experience the world.

It’s been a loss of innocence. The auras around leaders and institutions are gone. The frauds have struck their colors. The experts have gaffed and the newscasts have chased it all into the nonsensical void. How can any trust be given to elected officials, any faith placed in agencies and bureaus, any credence given to pundits and religious leaders, any credibility granted to the news and the papers?

Now we know that this country is much more racist, sexist, and xenophobic than we ever thought. And we know that good people will set that aside on the strength of ignorance.

Now we know that there are strings being pulled no one knows about. Now we know they’ll try to force us into choices we don’t want to make.

Candidates and parties and systems can never be seen the same.

We’ve had to hear our family and friends and anonymous trolls say things we wish we hadn’t heard them say.

We’ve been disappointed – time and again.

Wednesday won’t make things better – no matter how it goes. 2017 won’t either. It’s out in the open now. We know things now, things that will stay with us as we move forward.

But that is all we can do. We have to move forward, knowing what we know, and hoping to make it better. Hoping this sort of thing never has to happen again.

And maybe it will get better. Maybe that will be the great silver lining in this thing, and the fires it lit will fuel us to fight and win. But maybe not. Maybe it only gets worse. Maybe there’s too much hate. Maybe this awareness will only engender apathy. I wish I knew.

Maybe it is ultimately out of our hands, but let’s control what we can.

So if wherever we are – around the dinner table, at the coffee shop, on Facebook and Twitter, at the pipeline, in the streets, outside the courthouse, in the classroom, in the capital, and, maybe mostly important, within our own hearts and minds – let us make a stand for change. For faith, hope, and love.

Forth now, and fear now darkness.

Soli Deo Gloria

– Peter

The Breathtaking Reaches of Stephen Curry

Whether or not he has become the league’s best player, he’s easily the most compelling.

curryshotchartryansimpson

Last Spring I declared an end to LeBron’s reign and hailed the ascension of Stephen Curry.

And then, when all was finished and done save the formalities, LeBron entered the Avatar State and flipped the script in a way only he can. Now, for the second time in LeBron’s career, we can all relax and just enjoy watching him play without the nerve-wracking drama that accompanies his place in the epic tales of the NBA.

But, even if LeBron defended his throne and established a reign of prosperity in Cleveland all while making safe his legacy, he is no longer the NBA’s most intriguing character. The would-be usurper, Stephen Curry, has at least taken that role.

Curry has now become, almost without anyone realizing it, the most fascinating athlete in American sports. Once merely a mesmerizing exhibition shooter, he has become, on and off the court, a Picasso of phenomena, a microcosm of Americana, a creature of contradictions, and a mannequin of hyperbole.

On the court, Curry has defined his game through the impossible. He is the best shooter to ever live. He was MVP in 2015 and then raised his game in every way the following year. He makes shots no one else even bothers to shoot. He throws passes no one else thinks to throw. When he starts on a hot streak, even opposing fans can’t help but ooh and ah. We have never seen, and may never see, a player do the things he does.

And yet, in two consecutive Finals, he has been…well, bad. He led the greatest regular-season team in history into a series against a rag-tag team trying to divvy up minutes between Kevin Love and Richard Jefferson, got a 3-1 lead, and then lost.

Earlier that season, Curry made his bones with the most ice-cold game-winner of recent memory, as he pulled up just beyond half-court to sink the Thunder. But there were no such heroics in the Finals. Just boneheaded behind-the-back passes.

We’re in a place, like we were with LeBron, where we have to ask: is the league’s preeminent superstar able to get it done when it really matters?

Oh, but the schizophrenia hardly stops there.

He has won the last two MVPs, but it’s only going to be a matter of weeks before we start asking if the Warriors are actually Kevin Durant’s team.

He was once the scrappy, undersized kid from a small school who made his way in the NBA. Now the deck is totally rigged in his favor. Success was once a dream, but now it’s an expectation.

Kids imitate his game because it doesn’t require supernatural size or athleticism, but it is no less unattainable.

He’s supposedly the humble superstar, but it turns out he’s less than gracious in defeat. He’s a model citizen, but he threw a temper-tantrum that ended with him throwing his mouthguard into the stands. He is supposed to be the happy-go-lucky team leader, but I cannot think of another player who exhibits worse body language on the court.

His wife, pertinent to the conversation because they made her pertinent, is simultaneously some sort of ideal spouse (according to some) and a salty “oops better delete that” Tweeter.

The NBA’s most popular player is supposed to be cool, but Curry is not cool. He doesn’t look cool, talk cool, Tweet cool, or dress cool. He has the most uncool sneakers any of us have ever seen. His commercials are dreadful. His on-court dance moves are kind of annoying.

Who is this guy?

Stephen Curry is the point at which our current conversations and debates collide.

He is the embodiment of basketball’s evolution, the business end of the jump-shot trident. His game is the antidote to big-man basketball, the perfection of the small-ball revolution, and a peerless demonstration of efficiency.

His career can be used as evidence for building a team the “right” way while also being a clear example of Super Team construction.

His Christian faith is well-known, but that conversation is usually minimized or tabled in the post-Tebow world.

Stephen Curry is a racial conversation. He is a black man with light skin, which, if you know your cultural and literary history, is a unique space to occupy in America, one which comes with its peculiar trials and advantages. As athletes rediscover their activism, he largely remains silent. As his fellow Bay Area athlete, Colin Kaepernick, bears the nation’s tumult, mums the word from Curry. As his hometown erupted in protest over police violence, Charlotte’s most famous athlete did next to nothing. His coach – his coach – says more profound things about social issues.

His game is made for GIFs and Vines. He is poised at any time to break the internet and enter the highlight reels. If the internet could draft a basketball team, he’d be on it (along with DeAndre Jordan, J.R. Smith, Russell Westbrook, and Kristaps Porzingis). He is the player for iGeneration.

There is no way an athlete can be all of these things at once.

And yet, he is.

I’ve written quite a few things about LeBron James, and one of the things I’ve found is that we, as basketball-watching people, squandered most of his career. While he was being singularly great, we were busy bickering about his mental fortitude, his career choices, and his legacy. And, before we know it, his career will be over. We missed so many opportunities to just enjoy watching him be special.

We need to learn from our mistakes as we enter the Curry epoch. Curry is unlike anything we have seen, and, if we’re not careful, we might miss something truly significant. The problem with Curry is that it’s tough to know where we should focus our attention. What’s the focus: regular season blowouts, or Playoff challenges? Dazzling dribbles, or lame commercials? His adorable daughter, or his own sulking? His behind the scenes good deeds, or his silence in the spotlight? And how do we frame this? Is he a perpetual underdog, or an odds-on villain?

It all demands to be watched.

Among the NBA’s stars, he comes up short in many regards: Westbrook is more entertaining, Damian Lillard is cooler, LeBron is better, Kawhi Leonard is more professional. But none cover such a mind-bending expanse of possibility. Curry enters territory accessible only to him.

Though he abides in a sphere of existence none of us can ever approach, through Stephen Curry the landscape of our sports and culture unfolds.

It’s probably too much to be contained within one man. Watching him grapple with it will be the story that defines the NBA for years to come.

Happy basketball season, everyone.

Forth now, and fear no darkness.

Soli Deo Gloria

– Peter