When Our Outlet Fails Us

You unwrap the new video game.

You turn on the sporting event.

You go see the movie.

You tinker around in the garage.

We do these things because they relieve us from reality. On a day where work, home, family, or friends disappoints us, we have that optional list of things that keep us from thinking about reality for a while.

Some people call it their "outlet."

But what happens when the thing that causes us to jettison out of reality abruptly crashes to the ground? Or - even worse, slowly sinks into oblivion. What happens then?

I am asking myself that question tonight, on a night where my outlet - sports - failed me. Michigan couldn't score a touchdown in a 23-9 loss to Nebraska, and the Detroit Tigers couldn't score a run in a 2-0 loss to the San Francisco Giants. My night ended with a bad taste in my mouth, when it could have just ended on a good, relaxing note simply by ignoring both games.

Instead, I listened to the Tigers game on the radio (I refuse to listen to Joe Buck and Tim McCarver on principle), and had the Michigan game on mute on my TV. After a very nice day sleeping in, grocery shopping, exercising, and cleaning, I wanted to end it by cheering on my sports teams.

Instead, my sports teams decided not to show up. At least, that's how it felt.

So what am I to do? What are any of us to do? Michigan lost control of the Legends division with the loss. The Tigers are on the brink of being swept in the World Series. After following the teams passionately for the past few months, it feels like ignoring them would be to go cold turkey on them.

You get to the part of the video game that you can't figure out.

Your team keeps losing.

Your movie was lousy.

Your tinkering is just breaking things instead of fixing them.

These are the things that are supposed to relax us, and instead they infuriate us! We may even get more stressed over our hobbies than we do over our regular lives! Why do we do this?

I'll tell you why: because the payoff is just that sweet.

You do these things hoping that we can see everything just like we have in our heads:

You win the video game.

Your team wins the championship.

You have seen the best movie of all time.

You created the greatest machine ever made.

We keep going back because we hope that, someday, those "outlets" will reap the finest rewards.

We will go to another Michigan game.

We will turn on the television or radio tonight to see what happens in Game 4.

And next season, we'll be back again. They can crush our souls, take our money, and stomp on our hopes and dreams, but we'll always come back. We'll come back more passionate than ever. We'll call into radio shows, check out the websites, buy the merchandise, and drive our friends and family crazy. We may take a vacation from our outlet to clear our heads, but we'll return. We know that someday, we will be lifted into a feeling of euphoria - a feeling that no one can take away from us.

And we will celebrate in triumph knowing that we were there all along - through the thick and the thin.

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