Jason Lindquist (jlindquist) wrote,
Jason Lindquist

Nicely done

My senior year of high school, my basketball team made a run at the state finals, falling just short in the game that would've earned the trip to Champaign. When you're still alive, you want that goal so badly you can almost taste it. It's a very, very visceral experience. When you lose, in an instant, it cuts open a void in your stomach. When you're one of the kids on that team, or one of the coaches, it really does reach down to the pit of your soul and turn it cold for a time. It's an intense shock that the goal is now irrevocably out of reach. It's over. You're done. No do-overs, no appeals, no second chances.

Several of my teammates and I, separately made the trip down to watch, "as civilians" as it were. I still remember walking into Assembly Hall for the first time, looking down at the floor, and thinking, "That should be me. That should be us warming up down there, right now." I shouldn't have been up in the stands in a t-shirt, I should've been down there in a dress shirt and tie. You feel cheated. You did everything right to prepare for it, you did everything to deserve it. But someone else was just a little better that one day earlier in the week, so you didn't get it. It's a very painful experience. You can see the goal you worked for, but there's this sheet of glass you can never breach, you can never, ever touch it. Not in this lifetime.

Tonight's West Wing had Alan Alda's character called into see Jimmy Smits', who he just lost the presidential election to in the story. Smits' Matt Santos is running late looking at schools for his kids, so Alda's Arnie Vinick is ushered into the President-Elect's office alone to wait. It's a magnificent performance. You can see on his face, he knows how close he was. He feels in his soul that this should be his office now. You see the anguish reflected, which is exactly what I expect. (Though it's a couple of orders of magnitude worse than anything I've gone through--come on, this is the presidency.) Nobody comes that close and doesn't cringe when faced with what almost was.

Two weeks left, and then another story gets put away on the shelf.

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