Normalcy from the Abnormal

by Ryan

My interests, and therefore the entirety of my life, can best be described as meandering.

There is an irrational fear deep inside of me that is based solely in inferiority, that no matter what credential I’m awarded or credit I’m handed, I will be exposed as an impostor. To attack this fear is to strike my very core, and no amount of self awareness can shield the exposed flesh.

I’d like to think I’m aware of how fortunate I am that things fell into place. Indifference and reticence and all of those negative qualities we hate about ourselves have somehow propelled me into something reasonable: a life somehow born out of randomness.

My senior year in the Canisius College Honors program required a senior thesis to be produced in the fall semester. It was supposed to be difficult and meant finding a professor to facilitate The Process, something that would be arduous yet result in a kind of academic awakening I have yet to find in a classroom.

(If my chance theory has yet to be explained, consider this: I attended Canisius because I only applied to two schools and something “felt right” on Main Street during my visit. I choose my major, Communication Studies, because the school lacked a Journalism major I had somehow decided was right for me following a series of events in high school that are far too numerous to fit between a pair of parenthesis. I joined the Honors program when a short-lived advisor convinced me to “give it a shot” after I ignored a half-dozen written requests before my orientation visit.

Also, my Classics minor is the unfortunate result of deciding two semesters of Latin would be “fun” on a sunny August Saturday. The disastrous year of studying a dead language was followed by an audible “What the hell, why not?” when a second advisor mentioned little more than a half-dozen more classics could yield a minor. I am a walking ellipsis.)

As the deadline for thesis ideas and advisors drew near I recalled my favorite paper in my uneventful collegiate career. It was, of course, about sports. The beauty of Honors classes was in the varied nature of the coursework, and so a “Magic, Science and Religion” class provided me the venue to float a theory that sports can double as religion.

The paper itself was an 11-page “A” that was composed in a span of about eight consecutive hours the night (and morning) before the due date, a hilarious sort of foreshadowing that’s even too much for me. Bleary-eyed, I turned it in and two days later I gave a verbal presentation about the paper where I compared my favorite YouTube video of all time to the announcement of Pope Benedict XVI.

The reaction was muted, which meant that I wasn’t necessarily wrong. This was enough to fuel the idea that this 11 pages could become something more, but the professor who was interested in facilitating the scholastic awakening was heading to India for some real anthropology. The dream was dead.

Chance took over and I found a willing participant, and a summer watching screen-adapted Roald Dahl works in an outlet mall fitting room only briefly derailed my eventual result: a paper on the newspaper industry and the internet. That created another ellipsis in my life that that eventually led me here, although Gene Wilder tried his damnedest to stop it.

It is ironic, or maybe entirely predictable I suppose, that my initial impulse became a major influence in the philosophy I often explore here. My academic awakening was more a blinking come-to than a jolt, but my studies have a fairly obvious effect on what happens here. Classics is my character evaluation, the comparison of epic and athletic heroics. Communication theory and my fascination with sports/religion’s societal impact is the harbinger of thousands of, well, meandering words.

The flow of this composition has been anything but precise, but I think I’ve gently grazed the shrubbery enough at this point. What sparked my renewed interest in words I wrote more than three years ago is another brush between sport and religion. On a day Christians celebrate the reappearance of their savior, the Buffalo Sabres sit on the precipice of their own sort of rebirth.

This hockey team is one game away from accomplishing something fairly remarkable, winning a series they probably shouldn’t on the strength of two (perhaps three) remarkable showings from Ryan Miller. They are on the verge of becoming something altogether new, an unexpected phenomena that has a good number of observers left dumbstruck at their fortune.

Sometimes I wonder about my path and where I’m headed. Looking back at a vortex of luck and regret now beyond my reach is an easy place to find doubt. Making sure those moments are brief isn’t easy, but I guess for me that’s where faith comes in. A surrender to the unknown, on an alter or arena or computer screen isn’t easy, but it’s tough to expect normalcy from the abnormal.

I have a feeling everything is about to change. Hallelujah.

One Comment

  1. Mike

    If you’re interested, you should check out either “Lost in the Funhouse” or “Chimera” by former UB English prof. John Barth. He does a lot of interesting postmoder playing around with the mythological hero narrative in a lot of his books.