Friday, November 30, 2018

The Season in Reflection - by Mark Borchardt

This is what Robert Greenfield had feared. And it's happened. He wouldn't have minded the delivery of this essay before the crucial, tide-turning game of last Sunday night against the Vikings up in Minneapolis. But he didn't get it. The essay would have rode the crest of suspense. It would've still been at the door of an uncertain fate. But as you read this, that door, for all intents and purposes, has been closed. The playoff chances are all but over. Three percent, the statisticians have proclaimed, is our chance of tasting that post-regular season after-life. The Packer season began with a cantankerous start and has remained that way since. We just couldn't seem to find that necessary rhythm that has successfully taken us through so many other exciting seasons.

Football, just like the nature of our lives, continually faces the ebb and flow of inevitable challenges; the seasons, like the days of our being, must be considered with a sense of optimism as well as patient reckoning when things don't go our way. We are ultimately in control of our own destiny. And we must choose how to react to this dismaying turn of events as our football season has effectively ended.

So, this writing has now essentially become the embodiment of reflection.

I make it a point to never miss a game but this year I did when I found myself in the backwoods of Alabama for a music video shoot. Poison Oak and snakes were to be wary of as the Packers unfortunately lost to Detroit. And if that was a game to miss, that would be it. And for another game I found myself in New York City. But this time I got to watch it.

It was in Manhattan to be exact. Lilah and I had the distinct pleasure of watching the Packer – Dolphin game at Kettle of Fish. Established in 1950, it served as a Beat hang-out that saw the likes of Bob Dylan and Jack Kerouac walk through its West Village doors. And now, bizarrely enough, it resides as a Packers viewing headquarters in the Big Apple. And believe me, it was a real touch of home. Brats appeared and people explained their own connections to Wisconsin. We were surrounded by good people and got to hang out with the “Found Footage Festival” dudes, Nick Prueher and Joe Pickett. And those guys very wisely had the time-tested foresight to reserve us a table. Sure enough, it got packed.

And back in Milwaukee there was nothing like watching the game at the crowded High-Divebar in Riverwest surrounded by good-hearted friends. Nothing like being home again.

And speaking of home, there is also an immense virtue in watching the game in one's actual crib. It affords meaningful time to do the wash, the dishes, organize materials, put away clothes, etc. all during those tedious commercial breaks. And the incessant banter of bombastic views one is bombarded with in a rowdy bar simply do not exist.

But now as the trees have grown barren and the bitter cold makes itself increasingly known, and the season is all but lost, we must seek the greater answers to certain impending questions.

We must absorb our losses with as equal a temperament as we do celebrating victories. And that is where the true victory lies: in how we handle what life presents to us. We can choose to falter or stand strong against adversity. We can't do anything about the game but we can do something about our lives. What we ourselves are in control of is choice. Choice on how we react to the circumstances of the now thread-barren remainder of the season.

Because sooner than we'd like, the end of the regular football season will cast us into the full void of the desolation of a cruel winter. The cold, barren months of January, February and March provide little, if any, mercy. Our Sundays will become vacant vestiges of once robust gatherings and critical hopes. So let us enjoy the Packer games that we still have left...

Mark Borchardt is a Wisconsin-based independent filmmaker, writer and actor whose many works include "Coven" and "The Dundee Project." You can follow him on Twitter @morethescarier.
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