The principal of the high school where I taught English many years ago once showed up at a faculty picnic wearing a baseball cap with ‘DILLIGAF’ on the front.
When I found out what it meant, his approval ratings went way up.
I thought about that hat recently, because I’ve been reassessing what I give a … hoot … about, and how the list has changed in recent years.
Some things I used to care about no longer interest me. Most sports, television, movies, the news. I’m not becoming a grumpy old man, and my world isn’t getting smaller. It’s merely tilting on its axis.
I am sorting through my life as if it were a closet. Old stuff is going to the curb to make room for new stuff and a select few “keepers,” things I’m passionate about — the most urgent wants and needs, the most compelling causes.
A few years ago my interest in sports began to wane, and I thought about my father because the same thing happened to him. He was probably in his late 70s when he stopped following baseball the way he once did. (In retrospect, maybe he didn’t feel well much of the time and it was a struggle to keep up.)
I once followed the sports seasons like a madman, focusing on how my favorite players and favorite teams fared each day, each week. Now, on the other side of 55, I barely pay attention to anything except two baseball teams, Ohio State football and major marathons.
I watched some of the World Cup, but skipped the Super Bowl.
This, from a lifelong sports fan who learned how to do math by reading baseball box scores and figuring out batting averages and earned run averages.
Whatever’s “trending” or “breaking” holds little interest for me — rather pathetic for someone who used to work for a daily newspaper.
Most news these days I find depressing, polarizing or manufactured, designed to manipulate the masses and make money for the “digital content providers.”
This makes me more of a cynic than a skeptic. Not good, I know. So what the hell do I care about? What do I spend my mental and physical energy on?
Good stuff, primarily. My relationship, my kids, my family. My health, which is damn good thanks to being a runner and a vegetarian. My friends. Good books. Helping the homeless. Kids with cancer. And trying to figure out how to spend my remaining years in this body, on this planet.
That includes writing stories. About real people who aren’t “news,” but who are certainly worthy of our attention. People overcoming hardships and trying like hell to make it. People who give more than they take. People who stick up for what’s right, and who stick it to the man.
There is so much of this to do, so many stories to tell. Yet so little time and so many obligations.
Yes, I’m grateful that I have a reasonably fulfilling job that pays well and allows me to use my brain and not ruin my body. Last week I watched four younger men move a piano and a truckload of other furniture, and it hit home how hard that work is. How it must shorten life, lessen the quality of it.
I can’t afford to retire for a few more years, and I’d like to still be in shape mentally and physically to do the things that make me feel alive. To tell the stories of good people, and maybe achieve some greater good in the process.