I'm just 24 years old, but my list of wild experiences is already long.
I should qualify this by expressing my own amazement at some of the things I've been fortunate enough to witness and do. And I can't take credit for much of it. If only everyone were so lucky.
I've lived in Cuba. I worked at the mysterious Bohemian Grove. At 21, I covered an NBA team for a whole season. I've dined with foreign ambassadors and basketball legends. I shook Bill Clinton's hand long enough to make the Secret Service uncomfortable. I even watched my friend get his finger bitten off by a barracuda (true story).
I didn't see it coming even two weeks ago, but Thursday night I was able to add to my highlight reel by going to Game 2 of the World Series.
Baseball is one of those things we have decided is important. Grown men hitting striped globes with long sticks and running around a square of white cushions surrounded by 42,000 people? Huh? But it's real.
And even if you can't explain what makes sports (to many, not all) so compelling, so emotionally strangling, so vital to the minutia of here and now and yesterday and tomorrow — it just is.
When you pack the population of a mid-size city into one stadium to revel in the importance (even if manufactured) of a singular event, the magnitude of the moment becomes tangible.
The air felt heavy in AT&T Park Thursday night. Magnetism vibrated among bodies in the capacity crowd. Never before, not even when I went to the 2010 NLCS in Philadelphia, have I felt so collectively engaged with a mass of people on one thing singular thing. That many fans hanging on every ball and every strike created a remarkable snapshot of Americana in motion.
While the stadium became a living organism in itself, fans practically inhaling and exhaling in unison, there was also a sameness to our differences. In my immediate vicinity, we all came from different places to end up in the three rows that comprise section 151. We descended upon Willy Mays Plaza from Scotts Valley, El Dorado Hills, Palo Alto, Aptos, Arcata, Sonora, Morgan Hill and Anaheim. But there were no strangers in that section by the end of the game. I even got an invite to a cabin in Yosemite by a fellow fan.
There are a million evils in professional sports. Too many reasons to get angry and eventually apathetic. But the poetry of World Series baseball is a flame that shines so brightly that the even fire hose of greed, inflated ticket prices and stat chasing are no match. At least in the moment, in that park.
No I didn't meet the Dalai Lama, or grant anyone's dying wish, but I can't imagine going to Game 2 of the 2012 World Series being knocked from the top of my mantle of transcendent life experiences any time soon.