In his Spiritual Exercises, St Ignatius of Loyola—perhaps better known by his stage name, a.k.a. D.J. Jazzy Jesuit—advises the reader to carefully consider those moments of the day when he (i.e. the reader) has felt both closest to, and furthest from, God. The practice, he suggests, will help the Believer to better understand those activities which allow him to live in God’s presence more ably.
Seeing as most of this blog’s Wide Readership is likely composed of godless heathens—or, worse yet, Protestants—Ignatius’s advice might seem to have little relevance to the Reader’s vested interest, or the world of sport (that thing with which this blog pretends to be concerned). Yet, as cherrypickers of Eastern philosophy such as Jon Kabat-Zinn (and every last resident of Portland, OR, seems like) already know, there’s a great deal in religious traditions that, dressed-up a little differently and sans all the G-dspeak, might also appeal to, and help, anxious white people.
It’s in that spirit that I introduce the Self-Pagelle. Part Ignatian spiritual practice, part sportswriting, the Self-Pagelle is a useful (and fun!) way to better understand yourself. How’s about I tell you more?
Okay, then, let’s start with the term itself: Self-Pagelle. Pagelle is an Italian word meaning “report card” and Italian sporting papers such as La Gazzetta dello Sport and Corriere dello Sport use it as a means of assessing players’ performance in football (and maybe other types of) matches. It’s not an exact science (obviously, as it’s a well-known fact that science is illegal in Italy), but nevertheless a useful device for the eye-witness to pass along his impressions of the game.
Here’s an excerpt from Datasport’s pagelle of the recent Palermo-Roma match this past weekend:
De Rossi 6 Il gioiello romanista lascia il campo in anticipo a causa di un infortunio. Solo mezz`ora di gioco ma sempre nel suo stile.
This is a pretty typical-looking one of these things. The player’s name (Daniele De Rossi) is followed by a rating of his performance (6, here). It’s important to note that, although the rating is technically on a scale of 1 – 10, one rarely sees a score below 4 or above 8 (which are, in fact, the lower and upper bounds, respectively, of this game’s ratings). After the rating, the pagelle-ist provides a brief analysis, just a sentence or two, both to justify and complement the grade. As this one is in Italian, which I totally understand, allow me to translate. It says: “The cellist lashed a camper in anticipation of him (ie the camper) causing misfortune. Only the mezzo-soprano understood this style of joke.”
This, like other pagelle, is highly symbolic and must be read many times for the true meaning to reveal itself.
Returning to our original train of thought, I believe the pagelle-form might be useful as a secular substitution for the sort of religious self-critique that Ignatius advises. Of course, there are a number of things that one can evaluate about one’s days other than how close he felt to God. Much like a football team is made up by eleven different performances, one’s day is made up by a number of different events. Frequently, the sum of these events will help determine our overall happiness. It might be helpful to scrutinize our days to understand what has and has not made us happy—and to better avoid, or, at least, anticipate, that which causes unhappiness.
By way of example, allow me to provide a pagelle of my day thus far.
Fantasy Baseball 5 Good night from John Baker and Aramis Ramirez allowed me to maintain my lead in first place; however, I’m still quite bitter about Carlos Zambrano. As a sidenote, David Eckstein, a new acquisition for The Old Americans, has two extra-base hits in the past two days. Shocking!
French Study 5.5 Pretty happy to find out that to faire le poker means to gamble on something. Less happy to make the acquaintance of the tonic pronoun. What the frig?
Chit-Chat 6.5 Hilarious bit of banter this morning as, feigning a Jewish accent, I informed the barista at the local coffee shop that he could use my generous tip “for his college fund.” Man, that really got the place laughing, I tell you.
There, you get the idea. Now you try. And listen, when you’re feeling tip-top after a couple days of this rigorous practice, no need to thank me. It’s just people helping people.