Why we love football?

In the summer of 1982 Beirut was under siege by the Israeli army. People were scared; they were hungry and as the days passed they were growing increasingly desperate. In the summer of ’82, the streets of Beirut were often empty…  except for the occasional time people would come out of their shelters to get supplies. But  sometimes they would also  get out  to  take the batteries out of their  cars before they ran back inside. Other than that the streets were empty, the buildings seemed uninhabited … well, except for the occasional daredevil who came out to position a long metal object at the angle the screaming  people  from inside would agree upon.

When there was no bombing the streets grew eerily quiet up until the moment a certain spherical object, a quarter of the globe away, was kicked into a very specific net.

This sort of magical event would,  for a small burst of time,  lift some of the desperation as the streets of Beirut would roar “Gooooooooooooooooaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaallllllll !!!!!!!!!”  at their car-battery powered TV’s.

No wonder they call it the beautiful game.

My friend, Walid’s memories of the siege of Beirut come to mind often when there is a Championship game on TV.

Why we love football? I never used to like football. Before I met my fiancé, Johnny, the only sport I might have watched on TV was a basketball game.

 The reasons why I tolerated a basketball game when I wouldn’t a football game are simple: 1- It is easy to remember  who’s who when there are five players on each team, 2- there is instant gratification at each basket win and there are many baskets during a game, 3- unlike football not all baskets/goals are equal in points.

I watched basketball for the baskets, if I had to, so football with its one, two or three goals (if you are lucky) felt like watching paint dry.

To say Johnny is a football fanatic, would be an exaggeration,  but he was invested enough in the game, but also in me liking the game. That’s an understatement, he made me love the game.

 He taught me how to watch it.

I learned first of all the game is not about the goals. It is about the play, it is about strategy,  it’s about mental and physical endurance.  It is also about the history behind each game, each team or club, each player and coach. Each game has the potential of making history, and once you know that, football can never be boring.

Watching football games regularly, is like watching a series,  like a sort of reality TV program but without the nonsense that comes with it. You have your leads and the sort of  background characters. On the field each player brings his past and his future on the line. You want to see them prove themselves, you want them to be champions. Sometimes they fall. When they win it all, you are the champion, you are the winner. When they lose, you feel like the fallen warrior. I have seen grown men cry because of a football game. –Not Johnny, just felt like mentioning that –

Why I love football? The reasons are simple.

You don’t need money to play it. There are not too many equipment required, just shoes and a ball. Then again,  I ‘ve seen kids with no shoes with a soda- can playing football.

Football also can involve many people, a whole neighborhood can play in a single game.

 Each goal is a triumph no matter the score.

I don’t imagine myself play football for fun,  ever.  I don’t like scrapped knees. I like watching it and following up on the careers of the favorites on each team.

Another reason I like watching is because I see the players as the select few who made their wishes come true. When they were young, I wonder if people laughed at them when  they said they wanted to be professional football players. Even those who you are only a bit familiar with their names, are living their dream. In their way they can bring inspiration.

If some of us can fulfill their dreams, why can’t we all?

Meeting a Homeless Writer

I met the homeless writer the other day.

 Apparently lot of a lot of my friends knew about him. I hadn’t heard about him until I was at a book event where you can exchange, buy or sell old books.

I brought a bunch of books I had never had any interest in, and told myself  by the end of the day I would sell more books  than buy.   I was concentrating hard on that point, trying to convince myself that I tend to spend too much money on books every month, when my friend, Elianne, pointed out from a small crowd of people an old man whom she identified as “the homeless writer.” 
I got immediately overwhelmed with curiosity.  I wanted to ask a million questions about him but I did not . I didn’t want him noticing we were talking about him. I didn’t want to be rude. So I sat under my big white umbrella next to the table I had displayed my books observing him, imagining what his life was like, how he was like.

He looked like a nice old man. He was friendly and smiled often.  He also seemed to like meeting new people so I introduced myself and told him that I heard he was a writer and that his had books he had written.

He asked me about the books I brought, what I liked to read. I answered and asked back polite questions, none of which had to do with his life. Again, I didn’t want to be rude.

He showed me the books he was selling and amongst them the ones he had written.

” I have written ten books,” he told me, “but I only brought these four  titles here. If I had to display my other books, I would have to buy them from a bookstore, ” he said “ but I don’t have money. “

If I was interested in those books, he added,  I would be able to  find them at a bookstore he added.

Some of his publications are plays,  one was called “Selling Fish to the Sea- A day in a writer’s life.”

 It talks about a writer who is trying to sell a play to 2 of his producer friends who unfortunately have already too many plays on their hands.

I found him of a sort of poetic existence. I thought living the life of “la Boheme” was dead, but there he was a living example the ancient artist who lives by his craft alone.

The more I learned about him the more interesting a person I found him.

He was a street kid. He used to be an illiterate-chewing-gum-selling street urchin, but then he loved stories. He started inventing stories before he could write. He learned to read and write and never stopped since. He is being published  through a Lebanese well-known publishing house.  Again I didn’t want to be rude by asking him a ton of questions. I just bought a few of his books and his autobiography.

I am ashamed to say that I thought about quitting the writing dream lately. Thoughts tortured me. They said how do I ever expect to make it as a writer– Make a respectable living out of it? They said maybe it was time to quit childish dreams and grow up.

 I’ve always asked myself, what was the exact moment where adults choose to give up on their childhood dreams. What kind of responsibility would make a person to grow out of the little boy or girl they are on the inside. I understand some dreams are easy to grow out of, as a child I wanted to be a ballerina but I never had any classes; at 10 I wanted to be a scientist working in a laboratory doing fantastic experiments (I blame Bill Nye, the Science Guy), but it turned out I couldn’t stand chemistry . I had always been writing stories, poems and diaries since the age of eight, but I only realized that I wanted to be a writer at around 19.

Following your heart looks fairly easy in the movies, there is a lot of montage and concludes usually a happy ending. Watching these kind of movies, gives you a warm feeling inside, gets you naively inspired.

Meeting the homeless writer got me in a different kind of inspired mood. It showed me the ugly part of following your heart, and a man who is very happy to do it.

I don’t want to be homeless, but I understand that art does not always pay with success.  Do you love it? Does doing it bring meaning to your life? Corny question, the last one, but if the answer is yes you can’t stop. Whether success comes or not.