Pinball Wizard (Mago de Brincar)

That deaf, dumb and blind kid sure plays a mean pinball.

Pinball—sort of how navigating my life has felt the past few years—bouncing around like the small silver ball inside the machine, rattling around aimlessly, groping for answers and bonus points and extra lives—hoping maybe to finally see the road beneath my feet.   And I wouldn’t be surprised if I appear to the casual observer like the antagonist of the ousted pinball King, a kid without a real sense of what he is doing, navigating only by instinct– although I admittedly still lack the mean pinball skill.  Novato en algunas maneras, todavía.

Pero sigo jugando.

Clarity and security—-we are all capable of sacrificing these two comforts in exchange for a world of possibilities and potentialities.  And regarding anything—careers life love, daily habits, daily interactions.  We can trade a script we know by heart– or one in which we can anticipate nearly every plot development– for one that finds us bouncing around, living a life that is in many ways still unwritten.  It is the essence and definition of risk.  It is life.  And exchanging certainty for uncertainty in the direction of a new, desired future can in many ways feel like a deal with the devil—trading whatever sense we have of place and purpose for the inevitable feeling of being utterly lost is in no way an easy pill to swallow.

But we do it in the hopes of one day being better found.

So we bounce. Like the pinball.  And we keep bouncing.   Like the past few years have felt for me, steady bouncing like KRS-One between places and people and jobs, or if a more suave soundtrack is called for, like R-Kelly’s remix to ignition. Bounce bounce bounce —- not knowing where to next, or what’s around the next corner.

It’s not easy.  It’s not all bumpers and flippers and blinking lights.

When I feel lost, I try to remind myself  that the clarity and certainty of everything can be as suffocating as the uncertainty can be unnerving.  And I give thanks to my family, my college, my friends for enabling some of the bouncing—I have been blessed with many opportunities and endless support.

Perhaps the worst part of bouncing around is that people think we do it carelessly.  As Dan says, there is a stigma about bouncing around from place to place, job to job, not following a set career track or a predefined path.  People often think you are unintelligent, incapable, or worse yet, flaky. Incapable of committing, and in many ways immature.

In some ways the bouncing is careless and juvenile—maybe that is why most people ping about while they are young.   But in many ways this bouncing springs from so much care and thought, from a knowledge and respect that searching for passion, for things meaningful, for those things which will ultimately be for us the most fulfilling—-that this is a deal worth making–or at least a game worth playing.

The best translation of this idea of the pinball wizard, those who also happen to be bouncing around the universe looking for their passion or calling, was Mago de Brincar —- the magician of jumping.   Brincar has implied within the idea of jumping without thinking, literally saltar con ligereza –  to jump lightly, flippantly.  It’s like hopping or bouncing about carelessly, like a mountain-goat on some steep, rocky hillside.

To many it seems ridiculous, careless, risky. But we rarely fall.  And we may not all get where we are heading (or even know where we are trying to get), but at least we are bodies in motion.

And although we think it out, and the same time we don’t.  Because we are unsure of what exactly we are doing—the path is undefined, the pages unwritten.  It is all done by instinct.

We may be playing blindly, but some day all that bouncing will somehow make sense.



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