Thursday, September 25, 2014

Namaste off my back 

That poor kid was up all night.
Dreaming and planning and really 
about how to kick a field goal.

I know it. He tries so hard and
I like him. I am on his side. 

So, this morning at school,
on the football field
I watched him come out in the helmet
and uniform and tee up the ball. 

(The goal post is along the fence
and over the fence is the biggest house 
in the city, with a pool, furniture imported 
from maybe Paris, and a blue, bubbling hot tub. 
This is Monday, and the tub is full of 
the richest people in town, on a retreat.) 

The kid runs up, kicks the ball, and the ball
goes sideways over the fence, lands 
in the hot tub and explodes in the heat 
and steam, scattering the bathers like 
fireplace sparks. 

The kid walks back to me, head down,
helmet off, dangling from his hand. 

“I worried about that happening all night,” 
he says. “I worked and practiced so hard.”

My name is Chester, the kids call me Coach Chester. But I moonlight as a Zen Buddhist teacher. The other coaches call me Coach Moonlight. It’s not very zen of me to say this, but the hell with them. The kid raises his head and I look him right in the eye. 

“Mistakes are for the very alive; only the dead are perfect.” I say. 

“Thank you,” says the kid, pulling his helmet back on. “I feel a little better, but I worry so much, especially at night. What do you think, Coach?”

I gaze off into the distance, through the goal post, over the fence, beyond the rising steam of the hot tub, toward ... the east. 

“Sometimes you have to still your mind. Sometimes you have to let it go. Sometimes you have to say to your brain: namaste off my back!” 

I toss the kid a fresh football, and he kicks it straight up to the moon. 

“Thanks, Coach Moonlight!” he says. His face is a sea of tranquility. 

(I made some of that last up.)

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