Mental Yoga Sunday is a callback to those lazy mornings and afternoons spent reading the newspaper or finishing up a dog eared novel. Days lost in long shadow in a hidden corner full of nothing but quiet and weak wifi. Immerse yourself for a spell in something longer than a text string but shorter than a binge marathon. Here are my favorite long form reads this week.
The Boxer and the Blonde (Sports Illustrated by Frank Deford)
"According to the common story about our fall into postmodernity, being yourself has become hard work. Once, people were born into relatively stable situations in which identity was prescribed based on where one was born and to whom. There was little choice in the matter of what sort of life one would lead, and little social or geographical mobility. The social categories — class, gender, ethnicity, religion — that determined the possibilities for one’s life were essentially fixed, as were the way those categories were defined. But then industrialization and the advent of mass media scuttled those categories over time and rendered social norms more fluid and malleable. Identity was no longer assigned but became a project for individuals to realize. It became an opportunity and a responsibility, a burden. You could now fail to become someone." - FULL ARTICLE
The Running Novelist (The New Yorker by Haruki Murakami)
"I can pinpoint the exact moment when it happened. It was at 1:30 p.m., April 1, 1978. I was at Jingu Stadium, alone in the outfield, watching a baseball game. Jingu Stadium was within walking distance of my apartment at the time, and I was a fairly devoted Yakult Swallows fan. It was a beautiful spring day, cloudless, with a warm breeze blowing. There were no benches in the outfield seating area back then, just a grassy slope. I was lying on the grass, sipping a cold beer, gazing up occasionally at the sky, and enjoying the game. As usual, the stadium wasn’t very crowded. It was the season opener, and the Swallows were taking on the Hiroshima Carp. Takeshi Yasuda was pitching for the Swallows. He was a short, stocky pitcher with a wicked curveball. He easily retired the side in the top of the first inning. The lead-off batter for the Swallows was Dave Hilton, a young American player who was new to the team. Hilton got a hit down the left-field line. The crack of bat meeting ball echoed through the stadium. Hilton easily rounded first and pulled up to second. And it was at just that moment that a thought struck me: You know what? I could try writing a novel. I still remember the wide-open sky, the feel of the new grass, the satisfying crack of the bat. Something flew down from the sky at that instant, and, whatever it was, I accepted it." - FULL ARTICLE
A Gelato Maestro's Last Scoop (Eater)
"The greatest gelato maker in New York has lived in the same tenement on Sullivan Street since 1976. Meredith Kurtzman has crystalline memories of seeing Patti Smith perform at St. Mark’s Church, WBAI’s Free Music Store, and CBGB, and of grocery shopping on Essex Street with her grandmothers. She claims blackberry as her favorite flavor, but dislikes cinnamon, scorns “goo-goo” desserts, and considers chocolate her nemesis. There are no awards or cookbooks with her name on them, no pints of ice cream bearing her signature, no eponymous chain of shops — or even a single property — in her purview." - FULL ARTICLE
The Mackinac Island Stone Skipping Competition (Minnesota Monthly)
"Late one afternoon last summer, our family arrived at a campsite on the western shore of Lake Michigan. We had been driving all day, across Wisconsin on our way further east. The four of us—my wife and two daughters, ages 7 and 10—set up our tent, made dinner, then went down to the water. Two-foot waves were rolling across the lake, a taste of what lay ahead: We were going to the Mackinac Island Stone Skipping Competition—the oldest, most prestigious rock-skipping tournament in the United States, if not the world. Every Fourth of July, elite skippers (many former and current world-record holders) take turns throwing their stones into the waters where lakes Huron and Michigan meet, also known for having rolling, two-foot waves crashing on the beach.
I looked down, saw a decent skipping stone, and picked it up. My daughters were watching. The older one spoke up.
“Are you prepared for the fact that you probably won’t win?” she asked.
I threw the stone.
“Four,” she said. “But it caught a wave.”
My shoulders sagged.
“Don’t doubt yourself, Daddy!”
Her younger sister looked at her. “But you doubted him,” she said.
Prepared or not, I knew I had a knack for skipping." - FULL ARTICLE
"There’s a video going around the Internet of a balance-bike race in Japan. A long row of pre-school-aged kids, aboard low-slung bikes with no brakes or pedals, takes off from a start ramp like a pack of greyhounds. The kids kick their bikes up to speeds that would make most adults uncomfortable, and carve through the course’s maze of sharp corners with tenacity and grace.
A few kids don’t make it. They splay out across the track in a pile of elbow and kneepads and full-face helmets. And then, there’s one kid, coming from behind, who executes a perfect pass on his recently potty-trained competitors and crosses the line first, his chest forward in an elated victory celebration.
When I first learned of the Strider Cup balance bike race in Fort Worth, Texas, and considered taking my own three-year-old son, August, to the event, this was the gulp-inducing scene I envisioned. A national series of four races, the Strider Cup is organized by the Strider balance-bike company and culminates in September with the World Championships in Salt Lake City. Strider bills its race series as an all-inclusive event, a festival that exposes your child to the positive aspects of competition at an early age. Yet, the thought of my own son lining up against Strider prodigies from Japan (who swept Worlds in 2016) made my palms sweat." - FULL ARTICLE