So, the world is ending later today, according to the Mayans.
10.11 pm, I think I read, which will come as a real bummer for anybody watching “You Only Live Twice” on Channel Seven, because the film will have about half an hour to run when the Earth implodes. (Bond beats the bad guy, if that helps).
I’m fine with the world ending, by the way, which is a good way to be. I can’t remember if I’ve written about this before (I’m sure I must have), but I have long held the view that we should live our lives hard and for the moment. My cousin, a leading cancer specialist, taught me this, having spent his career treating people who suddenly ran out of time, who suddenly found out life is not an endless resource to be savoured at some point, when they get around to it.
The elevator pitch of my life philosophy is this: at your funeral, you don’t want anybody crying and saying, “Oh, poor (insert your name here) … he/she was so young, hadn’t lived yet, had all these things he/she was going to do … what a tragedy.”
You want everybody holding a good old fashioned Irish wake, getting pissed, crying sure but also playing music with a beat, laughing, shaking their heads, telling stories of your escapades. “Well, it’s a shame (insert your name here) got caught up in that bizarre shark versus giant octopus fight but, hell, he/she packed a lot into that life. Here’s to him/her.”
That’s what you want people saying.
I’m aware that age helps, in this situation. I’ve been on Earth for a while now, although not as long as a misunderstood Mayan calendar, and so have had the chance to pack in the adventures. And, oh hells yeah, I have. Not even going to attempt to list them.
But the bottom line is this: if John Cusack runs past my house, looking wild eyed, at 10 pm tonight, and then the buildings inexplicably shake and fall into giant fissures (good word, not often I get to use it, but don’t Google it; Google goes wrong fast on that one) I’ll take one final sip of good whisky, hug my beautiful partner and know that I died after a very satisfying final week of hockey for the year.
Which is all that matters, right?
It all started on Sunday. Big Cat Place and I drove out to Oakleigh, which gave us a lot of time to chat and listen to songs, ad we found ourselves listening to “Thrift Shop” again, by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, and I had a bolt of lightning idea out of the blue that I’m excited about.
And then we played the Nite Owls, which was a particular thrill for me because this team is known as the “old men” of Summer League, or of Victorian hockey for that matter. The team is an Over-35s team, which of course makes them ancient in the wider hockey community. One guy had a snowy white beard but mostly they looked disconcertingly younger than me, mostly because they were.
To be clear, I was almost a teenager when most of them were born.
But on Sunday, I was safely hidden among my mostly younger teammates and my trusty red helmet and face cage. One Nite Owl, midway through the second period, was puffing hard and I was cheeky enough to ask him if he was okay, if he was feeling alright with all this exertion? Poor old guy …
There’s a good chance I will one day limp into the Nite Owls’ club rooms, or nest or tree branch or wherever owls hang out when off the ice, and plead to be allowed to trundle my mediocre hockey wares in their midst, but for now I pretended I was a rookie, a sapling, and skated like a maniac. It was fun. And the Ceptors played our best game maybe ever, playing smart, fast, skilled team hockey, to win 3-1, The Nite Owls’ only goal deflecting off my stick, as I charged a defender driving a shot from the blue line. Beating our goalie, Jay, with the deflection. (Sorry, Jay)
They were a very good team, though. Perfect positioning, tape-to-tape passing, just as we’d been warned. It was a very solid win by us, a brilliant way for the Interceptors to finish the first half of our season, and our calendar year. We now go to a break for a month or so, which is a good thing given my current injury toll, as noted on facebook:
Right hammie undiagnosed habitual tightness.
Left knee dislocation or maybe chipped bone.
Right elbow tendonitis.
Left bicep undiagnosed cramping and muscle strain.
Stomach bruising (from user-error impalement on stick against boards)
Yes, I could do with a break but the season is already a massive win. I stood in front of the team before we even went onto the ice and felt a need to make a speech. The team no doubt rolled their collective eyes but they knew the risks when they gave me that ‘A’ for my chest. There would be speeches.
But all I had to say was this, and I meant it: Playing for the Interceptors is probably the most fun I have EVER had in sports. I’ve played some schoolboy footy (and, of course, The Bang, my Sunday footy zoo, which is amazing in all different ways, but is not technically competitive sport and therefore doesn’t need to be compared), as well as running, cricket, indoor cricket, surfing, boxing, one triathlon … I don’t know what else.
Nothing compares to ice hockey, and to being part of such a fun, got-it-together, love-playing-for-each-other team.
After the Nite Owls, all that was left was the final night of Wednesday dev league for the year, which always has a carnival atmosphere. Big Cat played four games of scrimmage in five hours (and then lay prone on the couch all Thursday). I played my usual 10 pm then 11.15 pm games, and scored a goal in both, which was a first – a two goal evening. Decent goals too. Anybody would think I’m improving. God knows there’s a long way to go (backward crossovers, anybody?) but four goals in the last three Wednesdays … sweethouse.
At 1.30 am on Thursday, as Melbourne slept, 15 or so hockey players, still smelly and steaming from the game, stood in the traditional, glamorous post-dev league surrounds of a deserted car wash cubicle at a Footscray BP service station, drinking Big Ms or variations thereof, swapping shit, laughing and celebrating the end of another hockey year. Gentle rain fell outside our car wash and a year and maybe the world ticked to its end.
I went back to my first nickdoeshockey blog post of 2012 to see what I’d written. The key words were these:
I feel confident that the goal a group of us have, of forming a team ready to join summer league next September, is very achievable. And I should be proficient enough to play by then, or something has gone horribly wrong.
Nothing did go horribly wrong. We did it, through the hard backroom work of Theresa Neate, and then the ongoing work of Chris Janson and a bunch of other rookies. We got some teams together and we have proven to be competitive, in summer league Rec D. Who knows where it goes from here, where I go from here? Some or many of our team will go into winter competition, which is harder and has a player draft, while others will aim for next summer, once this competition is over. Mackquist, now 17 and skating better every day, could well be ready to join me in summer in 2013-14. It would rock to play a season with him, or even Big Cat and Mackquist.
See, that’s the thing that should never be confused about my life philosophy. Even though you want to rack up the adventures, and the moments, and the achievements, and feeling loved and loving, and the travels, and the sensations of miracles and wonder and enduring sorrow and heartbreak and everything else life has to offer and hit you with … you never want to stop looking ahead, and wondering where next to gallop.
If the Mayans are right and it all ends at 10.11 pm, then so be it. It’s been a turbulent year in many ways, full of disappointment but also revelations (I almost physically died twice, that I can count), and 2013 may be more of the same but, in hockey, I’ve improved more than I ever could have hoped for and am playing at a level I would have shaken my head at in January.
If by some non-Mayan quirk of fate, I happen to wake up tomorrow, my skates will be sharp, my keyboard will be ready, my heart and eyes will be open and my legs are strong.
Have a great Christmas and New Year, hockey fans. Skate to where the puck will be, not where the puck is.