About once a year, just like the Seattle Sounders, I go on a walkabout. It's a journey wrought with self-discovery, angst, numerous sprains, and an occasional tear or two. Oddly enough, these pilgrimages I undertake coincide with the Sounders yearly swoon, a wave which they are currently riding much to my chagrin.
In 2014, the Sounders lost both matches during my absence, a 1-0 loss at the hands of San Jose Earthquakes, and a 3-0 drubbing by LA Galaxy. In 2013, I was gone during what was then the biggest slump of Seattle's short MLS history, starting with the September draws and ending with four straight losses. In both instances my arrival sparked a bit of an uptick in performance. 2013 brought about an end to the losing streak, a draw against LA Galaxy, followed by an opening round playoff win and then the Sounders elimination. We all remember that, it wasn't pleasant but it wasn't four straight losses. 2014 saw the Sounders go 4-1-1 for the rest of August after my arrival back, with a +10 Goal Differential through the course of all competitions.
Does that portend a glimmer of hope for our future? History would say yes, but perhaps things aren't as aligned as one would hope. In the past few years, I've departed with the Sounders in good form only to find a string of bad results in my wake. This year, prior to my departure, I was witness to the catastrophe that was June and July. The Sounders and I didn't leave on good terms. I needed a break. The Sounders needed help, and they weren't going to get it from me. So I left.
I've always been blessed with a healthy dose of pragmatism, a tool that allows me to separate myself from the horrors that following the Sounders sometimes bring. The Sounders are struggling. "Yes, but injuries," we hear. "Yes, but international call-ups," we say. But eight MLS losses in the past nine games grate on anybody. Excuses can only take one so far. How can one be pragmatic throughout this waking nightmare? Where is the silver lining?
I've not yet unpacked. I've got a dufflebag full of clothes needing to be washed and sorted. I'm writing this with knowledge of Sunday's result but without having watched a single minute of it. Instead I've got Interstellar playing in the background, warning of a future horror plaguing Earth worse than any Sounders losing streak could portend. The ultimate hero in both these stories is Time. Given Time, all will even itself out. That concept brings no solace to the here and now, to the pain and frustration we currently feel, yet it helps to know that the Sounders can't lose every game forever. With the return of injured stars, with the influx of new players who I'm just now learning about, it's likely the fall is nearing its end.
I traveled the globe hoping to find tranquility, a peace that would further get me through the ebbs and flows of fandom. Somehow I found myself teaching a yoga class. I don't know anything about yoga, but the internet has pictures and I have vision, so I was able to piecemeal together a roughshod routine for beginners. My class was full of men. I called the class "Broga" because I still think puns are funny, even if they are shoddily put together. At the end of each class we'd gather in a circle, bow with steepled hands, and say "Bromaste."
What originally started as a bit of a joke, me teaching a yoga class without any experience, actually ended up being a very positive experience. I left each session feeling healthier and more flexible, both body and mind; tranquil. Being an amateur Broga Master isn't something I aspired to or even though possible of myself, but here I am. I taught stretches I didn't imagine myself capable of doing. I taught breathing techniques which calmed the mind, relaxing the body. If I didn't have a student fall asleep during a session I'd feel as if I failed somehow. But failure became less important. The losses of the Sounders piled up in my absence, but as Bob Marley once sang, "every little thing is gonna be alright."
In the past I've said that we must experience the lows before we can appreciate the highs. A sense of entitlement accompanies perpetual success, an entitlement that breeds dissent for the smallest of failings. When Calypso imprisoned Odysseus on her island of Ogygia, hope was scarce for a reunion between the Greek hero and his wife Penelope. Believe and perseverance brought him home, that and a slight intervention from the Gods. The Sounders, long favored by the Gods, have to believe; they have to persevere. Without hope we're lost. But with it the possibilities are endless.
You must remember, I didn't watch this game.
But I couldn't leave you without gifs.
It's because I love you, you see.
Not love-love; this is isn't a romance novel.
More that it's a respect kind of love.
One borne from mutual interests and general caring.
I want what is best for you.
I want what is best for us.
Which, of course, is to see the Sounders finally win a game.