living in an era of surprise

The year 2016 has truly been a year of surprises, with more than a month still to go.  This includes a seemingly endless string of celebrity deaths, though perhaps my generation has just reached the age where the celebrities of our youth are of that age.  The vote for Brexit and the election of Mr Trump as President of the United States were both political surprises, and perhaps they are but the first of a string of political surprises over the coming months and years.

But the biggest surprise of all, one that I did not expect to see during my lifetime, was the victory of the Chicago Cubs in the 2016 World Series.  I grew up spending spring and summer afternoons watching the Cubs play on WGN, through the miracle of cable television and a seemingly insatiable desire to procrastinate.  For more on that, I direct you dear reader to this if you should feel the itch of curiosity and the need to do something other than the thing you should be doing now.

I am an academic and I have something in me that reacts to change as any academic reacts to change.  Living in a world of change, particularly uncomfortable change, is tiring, and perhaps this is why the Cubs winning the Series gets to me as it does.

Don’t get me wrong.  I am as happy for Cubs fans in their moment of joy as I’m sure they were for those of us who grew up in Georgia when the Atlanta Braves won the Series in 1995.  And in looking up things, I didn’t realize that the Braves and the Cubs had something in common, namely that they are the National League’s two remaining charter franchises.

I grew up in Georgia in the 1970s and 1980s, watching the Braves when they were far from World Series champions.  There was for instance the season, I forget which, when they were only a few tens of thousands of fans short of reaching 1 000 000 home attendees for the season with 3 games to go, only to have those 3 games rained out and the decision was made to just let those games go and not be replayed.

The Braves winning the Series was a bit disorienting, given their history, but they had last won the Series in 1957 and so while it was the breaking of a period of futility, it wasn’t the breaking of the historical certainty of futility that belonged to the Cubs.  But now, that futility is broken and there is a new order in the world.

And all I can say to that is that this new world order will be an interesting one.  So, all the best to all Cubs fans out there, and I can only hope that the gap between this victory and the next Series is not quite so long as the last gap.  And to the rest of us, we will do what we need to do to survive this world of change.


~ by Jim Anderson on 21 November 2016.

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