Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The Caveman

Some people just have an advanced sense of themselves.

About seven months ago, I broke up with my girlfriend of four and a half years. As you might imagine, this left me with just oodles of newly-formed questions about exactly who I am. This type of thing crops up with me every three years or so. I usually come out of it as a better person, or at least a different one.

For now, though, I'm in the middle of a grand re-imagining, trying to develop aspects of myself that I had previously cast aside. It's actually going pretty well. I'm solidifying. My goal is to become, in some way, a fully-formed Renaissance Man.

My goal is the Caveman.

I don't know the first thing about rugby. It bears a resemblance to football, so I can kind of follow what's going on. I gather you need to run into an end zone with an oddly-shaped ball and prevent other players from doing so by physical force. Regardless, it's tough to follow if you're not familiar with its quirks*.

*This exact same thing applies to cricket. I know it comes from the same family of games as baseball, but I couldn't make heads or tails of the one cricket game I've ever watched. The pitcher (bowler) wound up, hurled the ball at the batter, and the guy just crushed this freaking ball. Walloped it into the stratosphere. I don't think it's landed yet. All I know is that he hit what must be the American equivalent of a home run.

And NO ONE REACTED! The announcers barely made mention of it. Weird sport.

I don't know where I first heard Sebastien Chabal's name mentioned, but I do remember the first time I saw him in action. Ready for it?

A couple of things:

1. Sebastien Chabal plays rugby for the the French national rugby team, and also the Sale Sharks. He is 6'3" tall and weights 260 lbs.

2. He's the one with the beard who looks like a caveman.

3. I think he killed that first guy.

4. In fact, his nickname is "l'Homme des Cavernes"—the Caveman

5. His other nicknames are "The Seabass" and "The Anesthetist".

6. He might have killed that second guy too.

Have you ever met someone who is exactly what they should be? No wasted effort? No doubt? The sum totality of their lives has become plain on their faces, and you get the sense that their world will never fall apart. It's contained from within by a strong magnetic force, too well-maintained to ever fail, like a benevolent black hole.

Sebastien Chabal was put on this earth to hit other gentlemen very hard in the pursuit of athletic glory, while looking like a monster from the dawn of time. It's a simple thing, but here's the rub. He's accomplished what so many of us strive our entire lives to do: he has discovered his purpose and, in the discovering, has found he enjoys it. You can't break him. He is forever himself.

I take heart from this. At times, I feel alone and despised, but I take heart from this giant Frenchman, playing a strange sport in a distant land. My purpose awaits me, but I'm in no great hurry to find it. Sebastien Chabal was born as Sebastien Chabal, but it took him a while to become The Caveman.

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