Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Time to samba and have fun

Brave New World (The Star)
11 June 2014

A person must grab what happiness there is when the opportunity arises and at this moment, that something is the World Cup.


I HAVE a theory, one which would undoubtedly drive anthropologists mad with its sheer lack of scientific rigour.
My theory is that humans love to complain and this inherent need to whine is necessary for human development.
Think about it. Early humans probably figured out that killing animals for meat with their stone tools was a darn sight better than jumping on a gazelle and wrestling it to death.
Then some whiny prehistoric dude started complaining that his stone-tipped spear just wasn’t good enough. This led to the use of flint.
All was good until someone else started moaning about how flint flakes and then we had metal. On and on it goes, and humans keep on developing.
Fast forward to today. By and large, we have it better than our forebears. We have running water so we don’t need to go to a well.
Medicine has improved to the point that catching the flu isn’t a life-and death situation. Kings don’t govern us on their whims – the list goes on. But still we complain. Our water supply can be erratic when there is a drought. The hospitals are so crowded and inefficient. Our democratic process is utterly flawed.
This is good because if we don’t complain, how are we going to progress? If we humans didn’t feel the need to whinge, I suggest that in all likelihood, we would still be wrestling gazelles on the savannah.
But sometimes, all this complaining can be too much. It is exhausting to keep plugging away at an unjust system, bad governance, bigotry and the sheer meanness of people.
Where does it all end? How does one keep on going? I am sure everyone has their own way of recharging their batteries.
Personally, I find it useful to think of the bigger picture. Things can be bad, true, but at least we are not wrestling gazelles.
But really, the thing for me is that in the midst of all the battling, a person must grab what happiness there is whenever the opportunity arises and at this moment, that something is the World Cup.
Everyone has their “first” World Cup – mine was Spain 1982. The Brazilians were at their glorious best with players like the chain-smoking Socrates and non-smoking Zico. But oddly enough, my mates were more taken by Karl-Heinz Rummenigge.
Personally, I was totally in awe of that sublime poacher Paolo Rossi.
1982 was the first time I felt truly excited about the World Cup and it was all my little pals and I would talk about. When we were kicking the ball around at recess, it was not as ourselves but as our respective heroes. We discussed matches and players and all else became background noise. What sheer, simple fun.
And it is that sheer simple fun that I look forward to every four years. Time has caught up and my knees will not allow me to kick a ball around a pitch for any length of time.
But all the other stuff, the arguing and the cheering, that can still be done and I relish the thought of it.
I don’t know if I will ever be able to cheer for Malaysia in the World Cup, but for the time being as usual, I will be supporting the England team and as usual, I will be jeered by those wearing yellow and green and those decked out in blue and white stripes or any other colour for that matter. What can I say, I am a glutton for punishment and I am so looking forward to it.
So, while this does not mean that the problems we have will disappear, nor does it mean that one simply stops caring about all those things that matter. It does mean that there is enjoyment to be had.
It is enjoyment of a kind that comes only once every four years and I am going to grab it with both hands. Life is short, so what’s the point of it if we can’t have fun?

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