Religion I Can’t Find a News Peg or Any Excuse …
posted by October 1 at 20:51 PMon
… to put this great quote on Slog, but then I realized: I don’t need a news peg or any excuse.
I read the autobiography of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar this weekend, Giant Steps. It’s a good read. Not a typical sports book at all. For example, the only thing he says about UCLA’s famed NCAA three-peat in 1969 is, “In spring 1969, after we’d won our third straight NCAA championship…it was time to think about the pros.”
That’s all he says about perhaps his most famous accomplishment in sports.
Mostly, his account of college is about LSD, not fitting in with California surfer frat boy culture, summers back home in Harlem fighting with his mom, Islam, Vietnam, girls, and not having any money.
It’s a sweet coming-of-age book. (The bulk of the book is actually about his youth. And in the final couple of chapters when he does talk about his NBA years, he mostly talks about personal stuff.)
Anyway, there’s this hilarious quote in Ch. 8. He’s talking pretty earnestly about his early 20s pretentious flex your head period when he actually offers up a wonderful piece of wisdom.
He begins: “All sophomore and junior years I’d been looking for something to believe in. Having abandoned the religious underpinnings of Catholicism senior year in high school and the physical trappings when I left my mother’s house, and then being taught by Malcolm X that some central philosophy was necessary in order to live a meaningful life, I began my own study of comparative religions …” Okay, whatever.
And then he goes on about black studies and existentialism and Taoism, Hinduism … building up to his big Islamic conversion. But on the way, he slips in this line:
“I was definitely into taking responsibility for my actions, but the rest of existentialism left me cold. Zen was just too subtle for me, and the Hindus bewildered me with their different gods for every day.”
“Zen was just too subtle for me” !!!
I’m in love with this. I am set free. I have been trying forever to be god damn Zen. And it makes me crazy that I cannot do it. And now Kareem Abdul-Jabbar sets us absolutely straight on this Zen thing.
I am set free from trying to be Zen. Thank you Mr. Jabbar.