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Hockey Wilderness
  • A Useful Metaphor


    I have no idea what I’m doing with my life, and that’s okay, because my life is just my life, so whatever. I’m twenty-four — I’m allowed, if not expected, to have no idea what I’m doing with my life. That’s okay. I’m just a girl, not a country, not a sports franchise. I’m permitted vast uncertainty, maybe even some chaos. That’s okay.

    This is not about me, this is about how you feel about the Minnesota Wild, except for the parts about me, which are really just a useful metaphor. I know I said I don’t know what I’m doing with my life, but trust me, I know what I’m doing with this metaphor. Let’s keep going.

    Lately there’s been this thing, where I’ve been watching a Wild game, squinting at the television, trying to make sense of what I’m seeing. They keep on doing things that are… I’m not sure. I’m really not sure. I keep on watching them, and asking myself, “I am not at all sure that the Wild have any idea what they’re doing with their life.” I know that doesn’t entirely work as a question, because they’re a sports team, they don’t have a life like you or I do. This is just my useful metaphor in action. I see them, and I have doubts. I know there is a system, and I know it’s being executed, and yes, they’ve been winning, and that’s great. Still, I am not at all convinced that the Minnesota Wild know what they’re doing with their metaphorical life, and I’m not sure how I should feel about that.

    Maybe it’s just that I need new glasses — I mean, I definitely need new glasses, these are scratched and the prescription is old. I told you I have no idea what I’m doing with my life. I need new glasses, and I need to go to the doctor, and I need to go to the dentist, and there are thirty-five other things I’ve been procrastinating. But I definitely need new glasses, and maybe that’s all this is. Maybe I’m missing something. I need new glasses, and I should try watching a game without looking at my phone or my knitting. Multi-tasking is dangerous — if this article sucks, blame it on the fact that I wrote the first draft while watching Project Runway. When I’ve watched the Wild lately it feels like I’m missing something. It feels like something hasn’t clicked yet. Is this just me? My scratched lenses and failing prescription, my life that I have no idea what I’m doing with. Or is this the Wild?

    What we need to do is go beyond the eye test. My eyes are bad, we know this, what I’m seeing cannot be trusted. Throw the eye test out, go to the numbers, look at the data. What are the Wild really doing? What are the trends? Where are they headed? Up, down, stagnating? Is their success sustainable, are their losses acceptable? People are doing really great things with analytics to answer these questions. There are very smart people doing that work on this website. I am not one of them.

    What am I here to do? Well, let’s remember, I have no idea what I’m doing with my life. I mean, kind of — I have ideas, applications to fill out. I’m in love, and have a list full of books I want to read. That’s something. But we’re running with the idea that I have no idea what I’m doing with my life, because that can be a very useful metaphor.

    I guess that’s what I’m here for — useful metaphors.

    Next question: why do we want useful metaphors in our sports writing?

    Well, maybe you don’t, but if you’ve gotten this far, so you might as keep going.

    I think that this kind of writing is around because we want to be told how to feel. I want to be told how to feel. There are games, and numbers, and player profiles, all of these different things to look at. These things get put together, and we decided what sort of story we want to tell ourselves. Should we be happy or sad, content or frustrated, how does it feel. That sort of storytelling my favorite thing about sports, and my favorite thing about writing about sports. Most of the time anyway.

    Right now I’m feeling especially unqualified. I have no idea what I’m doing with my life. I don’t really know what the Wild are doing — this whole playing alright sometimes, but being bad other things, while winning fairly often — is frustrating and weird. I don’t really get it. And I’m afraid if I look at what the smart people using numbers have to say I’ll just feel worse, which really isn’t what I need right now.

    I need a useful metaphor.

    Sometimes it’s okay to not know what you’re doing with your life. That’s fine. That’s more than fine. As long as you’re keeping your head above water and not actively hurting your future prospects, then it’s fine. The Wild are winning enough right now, I’m not going to obsess over how they’re winning. I want them to play better, and hopefully they’ll figure out how to do that consistently. I hope they figure it out soon. I hope they figure it all out and do great.

    Is it better to have things actually figured out: yes. Of course. But life is hard, so don’t sweat it. Just keep going.

    This is me telling you what to feel: things are going to be fine. Do I have any facts or numbers to support that claim? No, but it’s what I need to hear, so it’s what I’m telling you. You don’t need to listen to me — I have no idea what I’m doing with my life, maybe you don’t want to listen to me, and that’s okay. Everything is okay. Everything is going to be fine.

    You know why? Because we are going to make it fine.

    That’s all I have to say right now. I wish I had something more concrete to back this up with. I wish I could offer reassurances based in fact instead of metaphor and hope. I feel like I should have more to offer, but like I said, I have no idea what I’m doing with my life.


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