“Truly, though our element is time” wrote the poet, Philip Larkin(no relation to Barry), “we are not suited to the long perspectives.” That comes from a heartbreaking poem, “Reference Back,” about a young man’s return home who has to come to terms with how life has changed in the house where he grew up. Part of this poem is classically Romantic, in the way it shows how going back to some familiar place is comforting yet might lead us to confront what has been lost over the same period of time. It’s been nearly twenty years since Tim Wakefield pitched his first game for the Pirates.
A lot has happened since then. Wake most likely did not know then he would return to Pittsburgh in 2011, wearing a Red Sox uniform. More significantly, he probably didn’t know he would still be putting on a baseball uniform at all. Most likely, he is happy about what has occurred since then. Professor Abraham at the Globe has been writing about this moment for Pittsburgh and Wake a great deal over the past few days because it is one of the more important stories this weekend. It’s about history and time. It’s also about winning and losing. Is it really possible that the Pirates haven’t had a winning season since 1992. How would we survive the same fate, as Sox fans? We can’t know. We can’t know what the future brings, even as we are pretty convinced that with such a long tradition of winning, having just one losing season is barely imaginable.
The research I’ve been following on the subject of Happiness (and now unabashedly tossing around this blog) tells us that we can’t really know what will make us happy in the future. As Red Sox fans, we know that another World Series will make us happy each and every year. But, since that destiny is not guaranteed maybe there is something about day to day life that brings real joy? Maybe that’s the key. The long season provides us a new game almost every single day. So there is nothing to carp about, to steal Peter Abraham’s phrase, even if there is a sweep in Pittsburgh, whom as a whole city are grateful for the increase in revenue all around town this weekend. In losing, perhaps, we give a little joy to others. At least that is how I am taking my coffee this morning.
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