We, as a species, came of age around the campfire. Wiry, skittish, naked monkeys sheltered around the glow of safety to beat back the frightening darkness, arms around knees and eyes like dinner plates staring back at each other. The physical limitations that the darkness imposed led us to turn inward, sharpening our imaginations and cultivating the metaphysical space that gave us the freedom of thought to counterbalance the bondage of night. So we told stories.
Mark Twain said a lot of cool things, of course, but one of my favorites is "I like a good story well told." I like it because, well, it's true for one, but also it's like real true. It speaks to a very deep truth about humanity - the uniquely human capacity and affinity for narrative. All those generations and generations close by the fire spinning tales about great hunts and wise forebears have built in us a healthy appetite for the stuff.
But it's more than that. Narrative is so integral to the human experience that it, in a very meaningful way, actually is human experience. Our identities, our consciousnesses, are little more than the stories we have told and archived about ourselves. The question "what does it mean to be human?" is really just a tweeded way of saying, "tell me a story, grandpa." The foundational architecture of human existence is a concretion of story. We are the stories we tell.
Thousands of writers spun their heads on their shoulders this week trying to find the narrative of this World Series. The celebration fires burning in Chicago are still glowing, but to my mind, I haven't witnessed a more compelling and fulfilling sports event. It is a confoundingly amazing story, but it's up to all these writers to try to tell it well.
But I don't think they are up to the task. It's no slight to them, really, as I don't think we are up to the task. Sometimes, events are too thrilling, too fantastical, too compelling to allow for containment by a rigid narrative. Sometimes human action is so dynamic that even the most baroque of prose ends up being a banal reduction of bromides and pleasantries, bad metaphors and starchy preambles. The writer ends up looking like an eight-year-old struggling to keep the cat in the baby carriage.
There are a million stories to be written about this World Series. I have no doubt that the grandpas of Chicagoland and greater Cleveland alike will spin tales about this one for generations. The narrative will ossify over time, the curing concrete freezing chunks in eternity. But I don't know. I think we all just witnessed a spasm of dynamic human action that will forever transcend our ability to set it in place. It's a good story that I don't think can be told well enough.
Narrative may be the foundation of our condition, the spiritually pregnant world of the mind that gives us meaning. But the brutality of human activity is the truly transcendent.
Corey Kluber and Andrew Miller finally showing their flawed humanity, unable to churn through the Cubs' lineup this last time. Rajai Davis punctuating the impossible comeback, the impossible player hitting the impossible home run off of the impossible closer. Aroldis Chapman spinning sliders in the ninth inning, the look of a mortally wounded animal in his eyes. Ben Zobrist with the go-ahead run, impossible Davis impossible again. Grinning Kris Bryant (see above). And that's all just from Game 7.
These are all jigsaw pieces spread on the Progressive Field dirt, storytellers scrambling to put them into coherent place. But they won't. They can't.