For the second Wednesday in a row, I went bowling with a bunch of people after work. I’m not all that great at bowling. We play two games per week, and we’re grouped in teams of four– each week, our team plays against another team in a single elimination tournament for an approximately 300$ betting pot that everyone contributed to at the begining.
The first game, I scored about a 64. Second game, I got a 97. This week’s first game, I got a 75. Second game though, I got a 122.
Now, here’s the cool part. Every week, we play against one team. The way the outcome is decided is as follows– you get one point for your team having a higher total score than the other team. So, if you beat their score in both games, then you win the encounter. If it happens to be tied with each team winning one game, then the tie is broken by the team who has the highest total score for both games in the night.
My team is the ‘leftover’ group. We’re sort of like the ugly kids in elementary school who get picked last to play for your soccer team. Because we all figured we had nothing better to do on Wednesday nights, we signed up, and on top of that we signed up last and without really caring what team we were on, so there we are– the leftover cheese stuck on the grater, thrown in as an afterthought. The people on my team aren’t even my co-workers; two of them are teachers at two other schools in Anyang, and the other dude is a guy who plays turntables at the music school I’m going to.
In any case, the first game last night our team bowled a pathetic 410 or so… (thanks to me and my wicked 75, in part). The opposing team bowled something like a 430, so we were down a point. Second game though, we totally rocked the place and got a crushing 515, to completely dominate our opponents’ 450.
To be honest, I didn’t think bowling could be so fun.
Well, it’s a different kind of fun. It is competitive now– it wasn’t competitive before because I didn’t think we had a chance in hell of winning. But now that it’s possible…
There’s one thing that I miss from my activities back in Montreal, and it’s something that’s I haven’t been able to find yet around here. That’s the real sense of connection with an opponent. Maybe it’ll just take a while to warm up to a bowling alley, but I miss badminton, I miss sparring. I miss the little breaks in between the moves where you just stare at your opponent and feel your fighting spirits splashing against eachother in the air between you, that something voluminous and heavy and electrifyable.
We haven’t been sparring in taekwondo so I don’t get that. I mean, sure, I am improving bit by bit, however it feels like that thing at the end of it is missing. The humanity at the end of it all is missing, that matching of intention and ambition between yourself an an opponent.
I think I’m going to get better at bowling and TKD than I will at guitar. Frankly, sports are easier– large muscle movements, if I just repeat them enough, my brain will figure it out subconsciously. The brain fills in the gaps and allows me to perform moves without thinking abou them. All I have to do is pull the trigger, and the mechanics are automatic.
Guitar is different though. Perhaps it’s because I’m not a stage of familiarity with the techniques involved, but every little thing in guitar is a real, frustrating uphill battle. 3 weeks into my lessons, I still forget the basic strumming pattern I was taught in my first week. I need to spend a couple of minutes everytime I pick up Rockstar (the name of my guitar, named after the brand of it) to just get the pattern back in my head. What do I have to show for it? As my fingers tap out words to Xanga, I feel the fingertips of my left hand burning– yet they’re still not strong enough to hold down some of these chords, still not light enough to transition from chord to chord at the speeds I need to maintain a fluency to the song.
I do get results sometimes. Sometimes, when I’m practicing something to total frustration and give up, the next day if I have the courage to pick it up again I’ll find miraculously that the movement offers me no resistance– as if somehow, I’d learned it in my sleep. Maybe I’m asking for too much in too little time?
The more I look at it, and by it, I mean all things, the more my fear of death becomes greater. There’s so much I want to do in my lifetime. I’ve started writing notes in Korean on my refrigerator so that I can speed up the language acquisition.
Am I asking too much?
What is too much?
… it may not make sense for me to say this, but maybe ambition is only made worthwhile by the possibility of failure. We’re just sacks of meat looking for punishment.