View from the Loge: February 20

February 20, 2024

View from the Loge

February 20, 2024

On most Saturday and Sunday mornings I play pickup soccer. The games are casual and fun, no one goes too hard or takes it too seriously. It’s a chance to run around, get a bit of exercise, and step outside of daily life for a couple hours. If I’ve had a stressful week, my lovely young wife will gently ask if I’m playing on Saturday - which is code for “for both our sakes, you need to get out of the house, run around and kick something.

One of the things I value most about the games is that no one cares who anyone else is when they aren’t on the field. I’ve played with one group for close to 10 years, and I couldn’t tell you what some of the guys do for a living (it’s mostly guys). I played on a team in a local league for a few seasons before I accidentally learned the goalkeeper was the former Mexican Ambassador to the US. The goalkeeper on another team I was on was a house painter, which I only know because it was painted on the truck he drove to games. 

The first question at far too many DC gatherings is “What do you do?” or “Who’s your boss?” which usually means “How useful are you to me?” On a field it’s “Do you have a dark shirt? That side is down a player.” From 7:30am - 9:30am on Saturdays, and 8:00am - 10:00am on Sundays, I’m not Director Loge, Professor Loge, a pundit or a comms strategist. I’m an aging player who can put in a decent cross and pick a decent pass, but is a terrible finisher and has lost a step or three. I’m a guy with a dark shirt who can help fill a side.

SMPA can be a lot. The pressure to get internships and jobs, to speak in class and participate on campus, to endlessly strive and achieve, can feel overwhelming. Find something that takes you out of SMPA for a few hours - something where you just get to be you, not your resume or LinkedIn profile, your grades, your ambition, or your politics. Join a rec league, go hiking, join a book group, something where the whole point is just doing that thing. Then, if you can, bring that outside perspective back to SMPA. What you do here is important and stressful, but it’s not everything. You are much more than your next gig, your next essay, or your next semester.