Ah, That Day
by Ken Arneson
2005-09-22 12:34

The Angel of Death flew into Oakland Wednesday, disguised as Michael Cuddyer.

Block: No man can live with Death and know that everything is nothing.

Death: Most people think neither of Death nor nothingness.

Block: Until they stand on the edge of life and see the Darkness.

Death: Ah, that day.

quoted from Ingmar Bergman’s The Seventh Seal

* * * * * *

Death takes possession of the agenda. It is time to discuss business.

Agenda Item #1: Death hits a home run.

Behold, I take away from thee the desire of thine eyes with a stroke.

Ezekiel 24:16

* * * * * *

You can tell you don’t have your best stuff today. But you deny there is a problem. It is only one run. There is plenty of time.

You grind. You fight. You battle.

You give Death a wound, a foul ball off the shin.

* * * * * *

You have an opening now, a good position to negotiate. Your odds are better now, right? Surely, Death cannot harm us, with only one leg to stand on?

Death gets up. He does not answer your question. He states only, in a matter-of-fact voice, “Your time is growing short.”

And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know my name is the LORD when I lay my vengeance upon thee.

–Samuel L. Jackson
  in Pulp Fiction

* * * * * *

Agenda Item #2: Death doubles.

Some good-for-nothing–who knows why–
made up the tale that love exists on earth.

People believe it, maybe from laziness
or boredom, and live accordingly:
they wait eagerly for meetings, fear parting,
and when they sing, they sing of love.

–Anna Akhmatova
  via Rag and Bone Shop of the Heart

* * * * * *

Life is a pleasant illusion, a hidden gift decorated in agreeable geometries. Love. Joy. Hope. You only see the surface. You notice only what you want to notice.

Piece by piece, Death unwraps the package. Death does not tolerate delusion. Death demands the truth.

The truth makes you queasy. The truth is unsettling. The truth is sickening.

The truth is this: you cannot stop the truth. You cannot disguise the truth with shiny distractions. Any victory is temporary. The truth will out.

Whack its shin, and Death will put on a shin guard. Death will have its day.

Behold, therefore I will deliver thee to the men of the east for a possession, and they shall set their palaces in thee, and make their dwellings in thee: they shall eat thy fruit, and they shall drink thy milk.

Ezekiel 25:4

* * * * * *

Michael Cuddyer:
Without thy fruit (vs. rest of baseball): .252/.282/.387.
Drinking thy milk: (vs. Oakland) .367/.424/.967.

Agenda Item #3: Death slides ahead of the throw. Another double.

There are blows in life so violent–Don’t ask me!
Blows as if from the hatred of God; as if before them,
the deep waters of everything lived through
were backed up in the soul…Don’t ask me!

Not many; but they exist…They open dark ravines
in the most ferocious face and in the most bull-like back.
Perhaps they are the horses of that heathen Attila,
or the black riders sent to us by Death.

–Cesar Vallejo
  via Rag and Bone Shop of the Heart

* * * * * *

And you scream, “No f@#%ing way! Get a new f@#%ing scouting report on this guy! Nobody else has a problem getting him out! This ain’t f@#%ing happening!”

But the truth is this: Death means business.

Behold, therefore I will stretch out mine hand upon thee, and will deliver thee for a spoil to the heathen; and I will cut thee off from the people, and I will cause thee to perish out of the countries: I will destroy thee; and thou shalt know that I am the LORD.

Ezekiel 25:7

* * * * * *

The truth is this: Your time is running out.

You turn to the past, asking questions, looking for an answer that maybe, maybe can get you out of this mess.

What went wrong?

Each question opens up a wound.

Whose fault is this?

To ask the question, you must relive the pain, over and over again.

What should have been done differently? What should we do now?

The questions are fruitless, and the answers don’t satisfy.

Why? Why now? Why us?

Death provides no answers, only the next bullet point.

Agenda Item #4: Death beats the throw home. Scores standing up.

I ache now without any explanation. My pain is so deep, that it never had a cause nor does it lack a cause now. What could have been its cause? Where is that thing so important, that it might stop being its cause? Its cause is nothing; nothing could have stopped being its cause. For what has this pain been born, for itself? My pain comes from the north wind and from the south wind, like those neuter eggs certain rare birds lay in the wind. If my bride were dead, my pain would be the same. If they had slashed my throat all the way through, my pain would be the same. If life were, in short, different, my pain would be the same. Today I suffer from further above. Today I am simply in pain.

–Cesar Vallejo
  via Rag and Bone Shop of the Heart

* * * * * *

You’re on the edge of life now. The Light is fading, the Darkness getting stronger. This game, this season…the odds of staying alive are dwindling each second.

The only tool left in your kit is a prayer. Your only hope now is a miracle. You don’t really believe in miracles.

You begin to accept that there is little left to do now but to pour salt on your wounds. It’s OK. This is Life. A six-run deficit. A three-game deficit. Let’s play the last plays. Let’s get it done.

Agenda Item #5: Another standup double, another RBI.

When we win it’s with small things,
and the triumph itself makes us small.
What is extraordinary and eternal
does not want to be bent by us.
I mean the Angel who appeared
to the wrestlers of the Old Testament:
when the wrestlers’ sinews
grew long like metal strings,
he felt them under his fingers
like chords of deep music.

Whoever was beaten by this Angel
(who often simply declined the fight)
went away proud and strengthened
and great from that harsh hand,
that kneaded him as if to change his shape.
Winning does not tempt that man.
This is how he grows: by being defeated, decisively,
by constantly greater beings.

–Rainer Maria Rilke
  via Rag and Bone Shop of the Heart

Comments: 4
1.   Jon Weisman
2005-09-22 21:01

1.  Whoa. Really cool.

2.   nickb
2005-09-23 08:38

2.  Dude, that was fantastic.

3.   Vishal
2005-09-23 08:40

3.  wow, AND a rilke quote to top it off! you keep outdoing yourself, ken. great post.

4.   Joe
2005-09-23 11:17

4.  One of the coolest photo essays I've ever seen.

Comments on this post are closed.
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