Yesterday Bram and I spent most of the afternoon at Whiskey Island, flying an owl kite, and getting the little bear comfortable playing in the waters of Lake Erie. He enjoyed his “swimming” lesson. The dude is also a chick magnet, as evidenced by the following photo.
I took Bram to Train Day today. I intended to take him to the Cuyahoga County Fatherhood Initiative’s day at the zoo, but a timely Facebook tip as we were heading out the door changed my plans. Abraham pretty much woke up demanding trains today, so I was happy to oblige.
The Cleveland Metroparks Ohio & Erie Canal Reservation is part of the Towpath Trail and is amazingly picturesque. Pretty much right in the heart of Cuyahoga County too.
The event reminded a bit of the Old Time Music Festival that I took Bram to in Metamora, IN last year. The whole of Metamora is still historic, and they’ve got an old big black steam engine and a canal boat that you can take rides on. It’s even got a functioning water-wheel-turned grist mill. The Ohio & Erie Canal Reservation has the canal, but no boat or train. There was old-timey music though, and I sang along to The Wabash Cannonball twice.
Train Day had no up close and personal actual trains, but lots of model trains, a hobo trail with real live hobos, a completely awesome Lego train exhibit, and the chance to get right up close to a marsh and spy on some blue herons. Abraham had almost as good a time as I did. My good times always exceed his because seeing him have a good time increases my enjoyment exponentially.
We ate an apple with with a hobo named Apple Annie, sat on a bench and ate chocolate fudge ice cream, colored a button and looked at trains six ways from Sunday. It helped that the trestle had CSX trains running across it every half hour as well.
Unfortunately, I have no photos or video because, although I brought my camera, my memory card was elsewhere.
All in all, a good Father’s Day weekend, so far. The dude conked out on the way home from Train Day and is currently snoring on my bed. Being a dad is the most fulfilling thing I’ve ever done.
I’ve pretty much always not been good at sports. This holds true despite the fact that I have a huge NCAA Championship ring that I’m allergic to wearing. In Little League I played left field and chased butterflies out of boredom. I had no idea about the correct timing to hit the ball. Elementary basketball was similar. Instead of stealing the ball, I asked if I could please have it. I was the tall kid, but had no hops, and no aggressive streak. I was okay at golf, but outgrew my clubs. In Junior High and High School I ran. I was the slow guy.
In college I walked on to the fencing team, worked my ass off, and mostly due to the benefits of having teammates of world class, Olympic caliber, was good enough to beat those opponents who didn’t have the opportunities and access that I had.
I’ve always considered myself more cooperative than competitive. I still am, but I’ve come to a different understanding about what it means to be competitive. I used to think being competitive meant getting really upset at losing; wanting to win so badly that losing is anathema. I think I’ve realized where I (and other folks) have gone wrong. Being competitive can also mean reveling in the competition, no matter what the outcome. Sounds like a rationalization from a guy who’s used to losing, right?
What keeps me in the game then, if I’m such a loser? It’s the competition, the striving, the testing, stupid! I enjoy it. Trying to win does not mean having to win. The mindset is sort of zen with a lower-case z. Would you rather be competitive as a test of your own ability or that of your team’s, or be competitive because you enjoy beating your opponent? If the latter, why is beating your opponent so important? Answer that question and you’ll know what fuels your competitive streak.
I’ve pretty much always been good at trash talk. I’m mouthy. I’ve been known to play games with my own goals in mind. I used to play chess by trying to see how many pieces I could take before losing. I used to have a Magic: The Gathering deck which could pretty much not ever win, but would make the process of winning as absolutely miserable and drawn out for my opponent as possible. The sadistic psychology of competition lives in this kind of trash talk, and asymmetrical strategies. But like the two types of competitiveness I’ve created, there’s another type of trash talk, too; sportsmanship.
Taking the high road is always a win. My friend Chas is a huge Pitt fan. Being a Domer myself, we’ve got an understandable rivalry. Chas loves to talk smack. I’ve not talked to him in a few years, but it used to drive him absolutely crazy that I wouldn’t rise to his bait, and would instead compliment Pitt whether they won or lost. Graciousness and class can be just as effective at unsettling your opponent as anything else.
I guess this boils down to the following: The stereotypical competitive streak, and the accompanying trash talk & other behaviors seem to reflect such a strong need to win, there’s got to be some lack driving it. For folks who just rejoice in sport, however, winning and trash-talking aren’t necessary (although both are quite fun in different ways), just being in a position to strive, and having the ability to do so is enough. At the same time, that zen-with-a-small-z state of mind can be just as effective a tactic as telling your opponent that you’re sleeping with his girlfriend.