The chill in the air reminds me of my childhood. With my coat and hat in place I was shooed outside on crisp fall days such as this to enjoy the sunshine before the cold swept down on the east coast and the first snow carpeted the area. My partners in crime on most outings included two sets of twins one fraternal, Bob and Sis, and the other identical Kitty and Vicky. Together we spent our days diving into piles of freshly raked leaves, filling our pockets with acorns and chestnuts, and wandering Point Pleasant Park in search of twigs suitable for dueling. While there we often checked out the frog pond before the ice claimed the water not to release it again until the following spring. Most days were spent outside, gathering fresh air to hold us for long wintry days coming up armed with a box of Crayons and a coloring book to keep us occupied and out from underfoot. Using the strongest boughs as steps, we would climb high into the abundant treetops to peer out across the dark Atlantic waters in search of a band of marauding pirates, perhaps having to settle for watching a tug plow through the waves towing a huge tanker in its wake. Great battles were staged as we sat astride the cannons still in place from battles won and lost long before we were born, recalled now only by long dead scholars in dusty history volumes. There was a great deal of freedom to be a child back in the day. A great deal of freedom.
The world is getting smaller for our young people lately, with more rules to guide them and limits on what they can do. I read the other day a school banned recess games such as Four Square or Dodge Ball, as being dangerous for the children playing in the school yard. Cartwheels, not yet totally banned, were also being watched as as potential sources of problems in the future. Really? I mean REALLY?? What on earth are we doing to our children? Good Lord, as kids we tucked ourselves inside tires and rolled down hills, carried jagged tin cans full of worms to our local fishing holes, made go carts out of spare lumber, and rode bikes with no helmets. Shocking as it might seen, some of us managed to survive to adulthood. How far do we go to protect our little ones? Too far possibly?
Juvenile sports events have gotten really bizarre. In many places they don’t keep score. This, from my understanding, is so that no child will feel less than if they don’t have the passion for the game, don’t exert the effort needed to excel, or basically don’t have the natural talent of the guy or gal standing next to him. In my mind, this being true, you cannot deem it a game. Why would I sit down to a game of Scrabble or gin rummy if I knew at the end of the game even if I won, it would be a tie? What would be the impetus to stretch yourself to do your best? Looking up the word competition I found as definitions:
- The act of competing, as for profit or a prize; rivalry.
- A test of skill or ability; a contest.
Sport is defined as an athletic activity requiring skill or physical prowess and often of a competitive nature such as racing, baseball, tennis, golf, bowling, wrestling, boxing, hunting, fishing, etc.
Imagine if professional football games were reduced to this level? Empty stadiums, rotting hot dogs, and Monday night TV gone dark, would probably be the end result. At times I have to say fans go wayyyyyy overboard in rivalry between teams, but rivalry is the foundation of sports and without it they wouldn’t be particularly interesting to either participate in or watch. Again, in my opinion.
Life, in many ways, is all about competition. If you want a particular job, unless it is sweeping fish guts, most likely their will be others with like skills vying for the position you desire. If the employer is to view all competitors as equal, who would he award the job to? Even personal relationships are based on competition. It is not always equal, as life in general rarely balances the scales. Some women are overly tall, others clumsy. There will always be someone prettier, smarter, funnier, or more alluring than yourself waiting to give you a run for your money. Men can be shorter than average, have a keg rather than a six pack, or a wart on the tip of their nose. There are those blessed humans born aesthetically perfect, talented, and rich. I offer no explanation for them. Life, happens. Children, in my humble opinion once again, need to be made to understand things do not always swing their way, and disappointment is part of living it.
If we protect them from everything, will it not take the edge off of being? In truth no matter how much of a plastic bubble you surround your children with life in the end is a good deal luck, or fate or whatever you believe causes bad things to happen to good people and visa versa. The joy of making a home run, winning a spelling bee, and baking the best apple pie at the local fair all in the spirit of healthy competition makes life fun. Like Yin and Yang, balance in all things. We can’t all be winners, or piano virtuoso’s. If we all looked like Christie Brinkley or sang like Streisand, it would be a same/same dull kind of existence. Imagine a crowd of people all wearing white shirts, grey ties, and pinstriped suits with no red or yellow to stand out in the crowd. Sort of like IBM in the 70’s. Pushing ourselves to be better for whatever reason, is what makes a good scholar a great one, a fast horse a Derby winner, and a man born in a log cabin, president of the United States. Wave your flag here please.
If you stopped doing things because you might get hurt or fail, people would do nothing. Ah, another deep thought for the day.
This asparagus is sooooo good with a little sticky rice and tempura shrimp. Easy to make and delicious to eat.
Toasted Sesame Asparagus
l 1/2 lbs. asparagus, trimmed
Salt and pepper
1 1/2 Tbsp. sesame seeds, toasted
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 Tbsp. Sesame seed oil
1/8 tsp. ginger
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. brown sugar
Steam asparagus until fork tender. Drain. Sprinkle with salt and pepper as desired.
Place sesame seeds in small skillet over medium heat. Cook until fragrant, about 3-4 mins. shaking pan often to keep from burning. Set aside.
Mix together remaining ingredients. Pour over asparagus and top with toasted sesame seeds.