the real thing

I have to admit. I’m one of those Americans who has never really cared much for the World Cup. Not that I’ve been against it. I just didn’t really ever give it the time of day.

Mexico fans in Munich during the 2006 World Cup

For example, four years ago, when the World Cup was in Germany, I happened to be in Austria. I did travel to Germany, to Munich, for a day trip. That day happened to be a victory for Mexico.  While I was walking through the town square area a whole crowd of Mexico fans, speaking Spanish, came pouring out of one of the bars near the Hofbräuhaus, celebrating Mexico’s victory. I was excited simply to be able to speak

Spanish with them, but I didn’t watch any of the game, or find out when the next game might be.

But this year is different. This year I was ‘evangelized’ to the significance of the World Cup by my friend and neighbor, Ralph, who was extolling the virtues of the truly worldwide competition. So, I made plans to watch the opening game, Mexico vs. host South Africa. We happened to be watching the game in Mexico at the home of Ron and Nadine. Ron is from South Africa. So, in Mexico, at a South African’s home, watching the opener. It was pretty sweet. I wore my Mexico jacket to show my support, and made a bunch of ‘biscuits’ (really more like cookies) to share for the 7AM start.

Ron and Nadine were there, as were Dave, Ralph, Kathy and Dave, Audi, Cruz and Ila. Cruz is three, Ila is .5 and both were decked out in their

Cruz watching the World Cup

Mexico jerseys, as was their mom, Audi. It was a big event, and we were all gathered, anxious to watch it.

About 15 minutes into the game (I think it’s called a match, isn’t it? Again, though I played soccer in high school, the whole competitive futbol thing is still rather new to me) Cruz, who had been watching, said “I want to play.” We, of course, had no soccer ball. For the remainder of the half Cruz kept asking his mom when he could go home and get his soccer ball and play.

This was the World Cup. This was the opening game. It only happens every four years. Out of the world’s countries, only 32 teams make it this far, to find out who is the champion.

We tried to explain this to Cruz, to no avail. “When can we play?” he asked again.

I’ve been reading a book called The Plain Reader. It is about ‘plain’ people, such as the Amish, who intentionally live a life that might seem strange to the ‘mainstream’ society. They don’t have tv’s, they are not fascinated by the Internet, they don’t need the latest iPhone. They do this, on purpose, to live a life that is more ‘real’ in the sense that it is lived as it is lived, not virtually, not mediated by some sort of technology.

Though I love working in the yard, and making things like yogurt, granola and bread from ‘scratch’ I’m not sure I’m ready to give up my iPhone (or to give up wanting the new iPhone 4.0). But at the same time, there is wisdom in the essays in The Plain Reader that I can’t argue with. A quality of life that all of our ‘time saving’ technology seems unable to provide for us, yet seems accessible to these ‘plain’ people.

During half time Cruz went to get his soccer ball. We kicked it around a bit until I heard so much cheering from inside the house that I had to go see what had happened. But, going back to the game on tv, I couldn’t quite lose the sense that maybe Cruz was the one who had it right…

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