Raise your hand if you were in the office late last night, or if you got up earlier than you wanted to this morning. Nod if you’re sweating that meeting in an hour or if you’re avoiding someone because they’ve buckled under the day-to-day grind and you can’t take that stress on right now.
It’s one of the most trying times I can remember in my short three decades as a consumer, but I don’t think I’m going out too far on that limb when I say this is just an absolutely crazy, strange time in the lives of most of us. It’s the same story everywhere, from bible studies to bars – we’re maxed out. We’re hoping things have turned the corner while cringing at the possibility that they haven’t. We’re afraid to be optimistic, to let the shoulders down, to wonder if life might..maybe…be trending back towards normal.
That sense of normality is harder and harder to define the longer our stress continues. Where is the baseline? Where is the floor? Are we sitting on it or just walking across the living room trying to avoid a knocked-out hole in the hardwood?
There are more bills, more bank loans, more undervalued assets and more plummeting nets eggs than any of us would care to admit. There are more unemployed, over educated graduates and more under promoted junior staffers than seems right. As the average age of an automobile in this country creeps higher, as we delay that shiny new purchase because we’re not sure we can take on the refreshed 5-year note, there is a call for moments when all of this complexity is silenced. There is a craving, stated or not, for a window where we can focus our attention on one totally immersive, emotional experience – an experience with drama, a backstory, plot twists, heroes, villains and channeled debate.
We’re craving simplicity.
We’re craving a three hour window where the next round of executive meetings doesn’t exist; where the balding set of tires you have to replace isn’t a factor; where a relationship stressed by the demands both partners face calms…just briefly…to give you that respite. That simplicity.
Why do we watch hockey? I believe it’s driven by our search for a one dimensional love. We sit in front of the television…we walk up the stairs at the Joe…because as complex as the game is, as intricate as all the tinkerings that happen shuffling lines, dialing up the pressure on the forecheck or adjusting our special teams, for the fans, the sensation is simple: The game was won or lost. We advanced to the finals or we didn’t.
By the grace of Ken Holland and Little Caesars, we now have our simplicity back. Our Wings are off to a fantastic start. As Hollis so succinctly put it last week, we’re getting down to business. This season isn’t about the emotional buildup of aging veterans being brought home for one last run at the Cup. It’s not about the waning remnants of a decade’s gone dynasty. This team is a bit colder, a bit more “board room.” It’s about journeymen finding a home, youngsters making the big club and veterans guiding a franchise in transition. Some of these faces we’ll be watching for the next 80 games, we just don’t know exactly what to think about them yet. We don’t have the history, the baggage…the complexity.
In that sense, it couldn’t be a more perfect team for a fanbase…if I can speak for us all…that is craving the simple joy of following a team that comes to play, that brings its lunchpail to the rink night in, night out and that’s comprised of guys who are more dedicated to this season and this collection of talent than they are about living up to the pressure of “one last run.”
Life’s complexity has kept me off this page for the better part of the past three months. The simple, pure lure of just being a hockey fan brought be back this morning. I’m grateful. I recognize that I’m about a week late with my “one last dose of inspiration.” Thanks for the tolerance.