I accompanied my dear friends Nate and Megan to their four-year-old, Koda’s, soccer game. It was an overcast Saturday morning in April, after the Beaver Full Moon. They live in a small town called Mazomanie, Wisconsin. Their house was a sanctuary retreat from the second sea. In the summer the area is varying degrees of fluorescent shaded greens.
Wisconsin is a home of cheese along with dense spiritual history, people respect the land. Farmers dedicate their lives to the integrity of it. When I was growing up in Wisconsin some farmers lost this integrity to the love of a different shade of green.
Omnipresent of the land is a town and village, Mazomanie. The enchanted Wisconsin river rolls through nearby. The intersection of the river held islands. These islands were free to camp on if you canoed the Wisconsin. Freedom as these people defined was the purity of nature. Freedom was to be part of this purity.
Integration of nature into every aspect of life is the inspiration in this area of the world.
It was obvious Koda did not want to take part in the soccer game. Even so, he was a splendid sight to behold. The rest of the tawdry soccer crew that morning wore matching red down vests, not on purpose. I overheard one soccer dad boasting about their esteemed practicalities. This was a response to neighbors that recently went to Wisconsin Dells on vacation. People were wearing shorts and t-shirts in mid-April. Overambitious hopes that if one wears the uniform the weather will follow suit.
Koda was a ray of light that morning. He pranced in illogical circles like a show pony down the field. His beach blonde spiraled curls bouncing back and forth as he jerked his head left and right. He galloped as free as one might be after the bloody fist of war had gripped them for years of agony. He finally won, finally bludgeoned the captor by golly! He would celebrate even if the bloody fools around him wouldn’t acknowledge the victory.
He traversed in every damn direction around his teammates. Circling like a desperate scavenger. He swooped around looking for a morsel of bloody meat like he was in the middle of a desolate desert after a car wreck, desperate for food. He ran up and down, diagonal and everywhere in the field. He even ran upon himself at one point tumbling over into the soil. He ran everywhere, everywhere that is, but where the ball was.
Even when the ball happened to find him, his curiosity of it had created a skeptic of him. The ball was a possible enemy.
I could see moments of clarity for him, the wheels were turning. Thoughts floating through his mind like fluffy little clouds, “What is the point of following this ball? Can’t you people see that it is much better to run free, like an orangutan deep in the jungle?
An orangutan doesn’t search for a ball, he owns the forest. He owns his prey, he owns his situation. These fools don’t see the big picture.”
Koda ran up to his teammates and opponents alike making silly faces. To the onlooker, it seemed like he was morphing into a scary goblin in broad daylight. At one point I saw him tiptoeing to creep up on a kid like the kid was his prey and he was a predator. His hands curled up but not enough so his imaginary claws would scrape his hands. He was a creature creeping in the night, tiptoeing in broad daylight, trying to be conspicuous.
Although his prey was very aware of his presence he allowed things to play out. Koda went up all the way into the kid’s face and stayed making predator like faces. After a few moments, the kid started playing soccer again, as they were right in the middle of a game. My dear friends were cheering their son on, follow the ball, Koda! Follow the ball!
The coach, a patient man (a requisite for teaching four-year-old soccer) was practicing equanimity towards all team members. He kept on giving Koda positive reinforcement. Positive reinforcement.
It was clear Koda had the intelligence to play, he was choosing not to.
He was learning the social aspect of the game and observing. Part of this experiment was very much in his own world or at least trying to figure out what his own world might be like. He wanted to see if others could see his world.
As he was substituted out he would run over to his family, his true team members asking how his brother was and clinging to his mother. Megan did a wonderful job of cheering him, gently chiding him to pay attention to his team, that this is part of the learning experience.
It was clear that he was playing the game for some other reason that he had conjured up in his mind. His heart was not in the game.
It was comical to watch him play the game for that reason. You knew people were thinking on the sidelines as they watched this fantastic fanatical child doing everything but playing the game of soccer while playing the game of soccer, “\when will he call it quits?
At some point in American culture, it became bad or in poor spirits to quit the “game.” I am not sure how much it has changed, our admiration for those who play the game, and those who simply choose not to.
The times in my life that I have felt most free, have been the times when I have quit something. I walked away from something, even without the proper reasoning in place to do so using my gut.
There are those who play the game but look ridiculous doing so. The German Shepard who wears the suit, the skunk who drives the car, the shark that owns the house with a two car garage.
All examples of the impurity of nature.
I find myself as one of those beings at the moment. Doing something I have no passion for. Biding my time until debts are paid, and society will allow me to be free and at peace. To be free would be to do what I love. I would go where the wind takes me, where I am needed, investigating for the truth of a topic, then writing.
I would be a soldier of truth and essence.
These are false views of freedom. It is my choice to remain in my position for fear of losing money, having no future, ending up destitute.
I spent the majority of my twenties struggling. I struggled against the societal norms placed upon me. I finally caved in and got an education. Education then became the constraint of my art. Constraints bound me to pay my student loans or else the government would what, throw me in jail?
These constraints serve as a muse. A way for me to channel the language I am creating. How I relate and navigate this world. A map leading me to my passions.
I know that Koda will choose not to play soccer. When I was a kid I chose not to dance any longer, my mom remembers me saying with ferocity, “ I will never dance again.”
Years later dancing became a passion of mine, through my own free will.
So what do these moments mean? These turning points where we walk away?
My answer is, if you are dancing among a field of dancers who aren’t dancing the same dance, walk away. Find others dancing your dance. Those are the spirits who understand the bare bones of it all. The ones who leave when they know they cannot keep the same beat as those around them.
It’s a curse in this society to be different, but it’s also a blessing. Once you know how to dance, nobody can ever take it away from you.
Somewhere off in the distance, a partner is waiting to glide away with you.