Monday, February 22, 2010

The Zen of Competition

It's snowing today. So far, we have about a foot at our house and it's supposed to snow more later today. That's good! I might even take tomorrow off and go skiing.
The bad thing about this particular snowfall is that we lost our satellite TV feed because of snow on the dish. So I had to put on my Carharts and Ginger's wellies and go sweep the snow off the dish. Then I noticed that the birds were out of food, so I had to fill the feeders. Then I thought I would shovel some of the driveway. By the time I came back inside, I had missed a curling competition at the Olympics.

I love curling -- it's a very Zen competition.
Q: "How do we compete without competition?" 
A: (spoken in a hushed voice) "We push a large rock across ice, sweeping the ice so that the game becomes a unification of our lives and the rock's. Be one with the rock because the rock's journey across the ice is one with your journey in the game. You are the rock, the rock is you. As you make the rock's path across the ice, you make your own path through life."

I don't know where curling originated, although it apparently came from Europe. There seems to be an on-going debate about whether it originated in Scotland or was introduced to Scotland by continental Europeans ( Yeah, whatever. Seriously, can you see the Scots -- the people of Rob Roy and William Wallace (Braveheart) -- engaging in a quiet, contemplative, exercise in which humans carefully, thoughtfully assist a rock on its journey across a frozen pond? How about other northern Europeans? These are all people whose ancestors painted their faces blue, rubbed manure in their hair, and ate their enemies. I know -- I'm northern European by genetic heritage. We are NOT quiet, meditative, one-with-the-rock people by nature. We throw rocks. At other people. The Scottish highland games still include a competition in which large men throw really large rocks -- small boulders, really -- across a field. Sometimes, I am told, at each other. The only help that rock needs is a strong arm and back so it gets lots of speed and distance through the air. Why waste a perfectly good rock sliding it across a pond?
No, the more I think about it, the more convinced I am that curling actually originated in Tibet, China, or Japan (Zen was born in the China and flourished in Japan). I can see a Zen monk needing something to keep him meditatively occupied in the winter when the sand in his garden was frozen solid and not amenable to raking. I can see the Dalai Lama (not a Zen practitioner, by the way, but the world's most well-known Buddhist) helping a rock across a frozen pond because it seems the right thing to do. I CANNOT see your everyday European becoming one with the rock in order to assist the rock in its journey, knowing that as he did, the rock would also help the man in his journey.
I am certainly not a Buddhist, Zen or otherwise. But I love curling. It helps me calm down after I jump up and down and yell at the TV during the downhill, slalom, and skier-cross races. Watching the Olympics can be so stressful. That ice dancing is aggravating my ulcer. GO CURLING! Oops -- sorry. Whispering: go curling.


  1. Dad - that should be printed somewhere?!!! It's so funny and insightful at the same time. Much like the author. Watched an interesting show along such lines tonight. It came on at 9:00 our time on Discover - I'll let you hunt it out. But it had to do with misconceptions leading toward a whole dynamic of thought. I just hadn't heard some of it before. I miss talking to you guys as of late. But my time is not my own right now. It will work itself out, just not yet! I love you. Please give mum a kiss for me.

  2. ps. almost sent it to the opinion page of taos news...but didn't want to offend you without getting your ok... hmmmm

  3. Found this on Meg's facebook. I see where she gets her writing ability! What a great blog! (I"m Brads cousin...double cousin actually, his mom is my dad's sister and his dad is my mom's brother...chew on that awhile!)

  4. Dori, welcome to the madness. I have to say, there is something a little weird about your family(ies). I've never met two families so intertwined. I might have to write a blog post about it one day.
    Meg, we miss talking to you, too. We want to hear how Brad is doing, whether he's being a good boy, yada yada, blah blah blah. Mom's momdar has been pinging and she hasn't been able to talk to you -- you know how she gets when that happens.