I'm a hockey girl from way back. It's a cultural inheritance to love sticks and pucks and... dare I say... Howie Meeker! I did say "from way back", didn't I?
So as a long-time Vancouver Canucks fan, I now bleed blue, green and white, and before that, blue, red and white, and before that black and white and goldenrod, I guess you'd call it? Darn team keeps changing colours! My heart was broken back in 1994 and I cried with Trevor and Captain Kirk, and my heart was broken again last year, and I cried with Lu and the twins.
And I ponder. All during the play-offs last year, and since, I have been thinking about the spirituality of hockey. As Spirit runs through everything, it must also run through the game. I also think about my reactions to the game, my emotions, my passion and fervour. Very little instills this kind of intense reaction in me, and I wonder at its meaning within a spiritual framework.
I think the pursuit of skill and excellence is a spiritual endeavour, and that is probably one reason why I love my Canucks. The naked eye can barely keep up with the speed of Mason Raymond. The passing and stick-handling genius of the Sedins speaks for itself, but for some reason, it inspires the vitriol and ridicule of the twin gifts from Sweden. Is it jealousy? Is it expected that just because they are from the opposing team, that they should be heckled and hated, rather than admired for their skill?
And don't even get me started on the Lu haters. Roberto Luongo is first and foremost a human being, and I cannot imagine how the constant belittling and berating from his own "fans" must weigh on his psyche. Who treats people like that? Lu must indeed have a very strong, centred philosophy in order to stay and play in Vancouver. I was almost hoping for a trade last summer because he deserved so much better than the treatment he often gets from his own city.
Yes, I have strong feelings about my Canucks. It is sometimes so painful to watch a hockey game that I actually need to shut it off and other times so euphoric that I feel as though I have personally won the game. What is with that?
I love watching a hockey game where I have no emotional investment in either team. I can appreciate the great deke, the around-the-world glove save or the puck ringing off the goal post and into the net. I can appreciate each great play without caring about the outcome of the game.
Maybe that is the key right there, and also a metaphor for life. If I appreciate each moment, each of the day's gifts without any context or expectation, I feel happiness and gratitude. It's only when I have an emotional attachment and favouritism that I get disappointed or angry. Enjoy and focus upon the great play, and let the rest go.
I do see the day of the goon, bully and designated tough guy going by the wayside in hockey. With the increase in concussions, especially with the future of hockey's best young player in jeopardy, there is more awareness of the negative outcome of non-skilled playing and the mentality that anything goes with regards to hitting. Then there are the post-career ramifications of long-term sustained brain damage and depression. It is admirable that the NHL is taking this issue seriously and looking for ways to eliminate or at least reduce this life-altering result. I am not afraid to say that I am a proponent of removing fighting and many of the hits from the game. In what normal situation in real life would it be okay to punch someone in the head because he said something annoying to you? It's time for hockey to evolve.
In fact, I believe we are actually observing the evolution of hockey with all the attention shown to the issue of head injuries. I would love to see the game continue to evolve until the skill would be showcased above all, and the physical brutality would be squeezed out and no longer seen as "part of the game." I admire Brendan Shanahan for his attempts at taking a hard stance against violence and injury. He may not make perfect calls each time, but it is a step in the right direction in making hockey the highly-skilled, fast and exciting sport it can be.
I remember back in the day when the Russians and Swedes first came into the league. They were criticized mercilessly for their lack of physicality (and Don Cherry is greatly to blame for this), no matter how many circles they could skate around our players. The time is here to rethink the definition of good hockey, reward skill, discourage bullying and get on with the job of producing highly-skilled athletes performing at their peak.
So this is where I am at with hockey: I see it evolving to a place where basic human vulnerability and safety issues are now a consideration. This translates into taking responsibility for one's actions. I see myself get emotionally involved, and that is a trap. I hear Don Miguel Ruiz whisper in my ear to not take things personally! What? Even hockey? Yes, even hockey. Focus on what I want more of (skill and finesse); don't give energy to what I don't want. Appreciate the beauty of the game and send blessings to all the players who are all doing the best they can, just like me. Breathe in, breathe out; it's just a game.
Oh, and it's only three months until the playoffs start!
I am a Mystic Angel with some Fairy energy whose Life Purpose is to learn, teach and share the esoteric and mysterious.