Pays au dela

"As to the natural parts I have, of which this is the essay, I find them to bow under the burden; my fancy and judgment do but grope in the dark, tripping and stumbling [wobbling] in the way, and when I have gone as far as I can, I am in no degree satisfied; I discover still a new and greater extent of land before me, with a troubled and imperfect sight and wrapped up in clouds, that I am not able to penetrate." Montaigne-"On the Education of Children"

My domain name, "Pais au dela," is the original French translated here as "extent of land before me." My goal for this page will be to explore, in an ambling way at times, the great land before me hoping to find clarity as I advance. I will focus centrally though not exclusively on mental health issues in my stumbling march forward.

Monday, January 13, 2014

BCS Fail and Anhedonia 1: Anhedonia


Early in the third quarter in a tie game against sixth ranked LSU, Cam Newton takes a snap near midfield. He puts the ball in Mario Fannon's belly headed left. Newton, who gets little credit for being a very intelligent athlete, looks left to see what the defensive end is going to do. If the end stays to the outside, Newton will leave the ball with Fannon. If the end crashes down to tackle Fannon, Newton will pull the ball back out and run it himself. Watching youtube replays, it has taken me ten minutes to write this up. For Newton, it all happens in a lighting flash while some of the biggest, fastest, baddestass, young athletes in the country chase him and try to rip his head off. For anyone who thinks football is a sport for idiot meatheads, I guarantee you’d have trouble learning the zone read and deciding in half a second whether to give or keep on this option.

The end crashes. Newton pulls the ball and heads right. Six yards up field, the first LSU defender gets a hand on him. A defensive tackle, a giant, a man who weighs 300 pounds but who could still out sprint most anyone reading this post. Newton runs through him and makes him look tiny. He cuts toward the boundary and runs through a defensive back. He’s doing this against a top 10 defense loaded with NFL talent. Ten yards up the field, he’s left about half of them groping for air on the ground.

Newton heads back towards the middle of the field. Two more defensive backs have a chance to make the play. Newton cuts twice. Both DB's graze him with a fingertip and flop to the turf. The last man with a chance is future All-Pro Patrick Peterson, who ran the 40 in 4.34 the following spring at the NFL combine and tied the NFL record for punt return touchdowns in a season as a rookie. He is a very, very fast man.  Newton accelerates and sprints away from the defender, and Peterson rides into the end zone piggyback on the future Heisman winner. Touchdoowwwwwwn Auburn.


I fell in love with sports at a very young age. Jim Fiffe screaming out each Auburn score was a familiar thrill before I went to elementary school. I remember arguing with a kindergarten friend about whether Bo Jackson or Mike Shula was a better player. Think I won that one. That same year, my older brother and I sent little kid drawings we'd done of Bo and Tommie Agee playing football to their dorm in Auburn, in the last days of my brother’s stint as an Auburn fan. He flipped, turned his vest on us in the second grade, and became a lifelong Bammer. For a girl! Oh the betrayal. 

The world made sense to me, even as a very small child, in terms of football. I amused preschool teachers with my specialized approach to learning arithmetic. 30? Yeah I know what 30 is. That’s four touchdowns and a safety. 23? Two touchdowns and three field goal. Or a field goal, three touchdowns and a missed extra point.


Cam Newton’s run against LSU in 2010 is probably the most exciting football play I’ve ever seen. I’d waited nearly 30 years for this championship run. It was finally happening. Auburn was beating great teams with stunning feats of raw and beautiful athletic talent. There’d never been a greater moment in my lifetime to be an Auburn Tiger. Seven hours ahead of the 2:30 Alabama kickoff, I was up late watching Newton’s run live on the internet in my apartment in Paris. 


I felt absolutely nothing.