Sunday, December 7, 2008

"Perspective is worth 80 IQ points" - Alan Kay

"Perspective is worth 80 IQ points." - Alan Kay 

It’s an unusual quote, I won't lie. When I first heard it, I didn't really understand it. Today, it became relevant to me in the cruelest way possible.

On Sundays I usually have a match for my local football team, Grange Woodbine. There wasn’t one today however, so we just had a small five-a-side tournament amongst ourselves and a few players from the senior side.

Things started poorly for yours truly as I made ridiculous mistakes and got quite frustrated with the games in general, as I am wont to do unfortunately.

Roughly halfway into the tournament, the manager stops us playing and calls us to the centre of the astro pitch. He doesn’t look himself for some reason.

He tells us that a lad who played for the team last season was found dead this morning.

Silence. Stunned silence. A horrible, stunned silence. A silence the likes of which people want to break but don’t quite know how to break it. Heads are just in hands.

The assistant manager, who knew the lad since he was six, makes a contribution, but tears begin to well in his eyes and his voice begins to crack.

I didn’t know the lad. I never met him before, having only joined the team three or four weeks ago.

But I could see what the news did to the rest. They were devastated. I felt awkward, as if I shouldn’t have been there when the news was broken, but I was, and there was nothing that could be done about that. I tried to console a couple of them, but the reality had yet to really sink in with some. It will, though.

The reactions of the lads was what struck a chord with me. Today I saw 'the lads' reveal their emotions on a football pitch. On a sports team, it can be easy to forget that the people you’re playing alongside have lives of their own. Things are always put away when you get to the football pitch. 

Not today. Today, it was brought to the pitch.

Lads who were frustrated with the way the football was going suddenly forgot their frustration. My own frustration even faded as I was now just concerned for those around me.

Perspective is an amazing thing, yet most of the time it only comes in the form of tragedy.

We finished the tournament. We went for some drinks in the bar afterwards, and, for a time, some managed to put what they had been told to the back of their minds.

I’ve been there, although it was a long time ago now, and I’ve done the exact same thing. But when it’s dragged back to the front of your mind again, the reality, permanence and helplessness of the situation finally comes to light.

And that’s when characters are made stronger or weaker.

As for perspective being worth 80 IQ points? After today, I’d be inclined to value it just a tad higher…something I probably should’ve started doing a long time ago.

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