Zen and the Art of Nurdling

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Zen and the Art of Nurdling Advice is strange stuff. We all like to think we possess wisdom, the raw material from which it is manufactured, in abundance, and that our advice is invariably the soundest and the best. And then there’s the question of to whom, when, and how, advice should be imparted. One thing is certain – if you are unfortunate enough to be flattened by a perforated bowel, and hospitalized for weeks following life-saving abdominal surgery, and the surgeon comes and sees you afterwards and says "you are lucky to be alive” it certainly changes your perspective on how urgent it is that you pass on the lamp of learning, before it’s too late.

This was the position Steve Rudd found himself in during the summer of 2010. Already unable to play cricket any more, owing to the progressive effects of a muscle-wasting disease, over the years he had given his gear away to various younger family members and resigned himself merely to watching from the boundary. What would have happened to all his knowledge, and memories of cricket matches he had played in, or watched, in person or on TV, had the Peritonitis claimed him? While Steve is in no way claiming to be a cricket expert, each person’s recollections, memories, and interpretation are nonetheless unique. It would be a shame if it were to be lost for ever.

Then, one day, in the midst of many long, tedious days of recuperation during that frustrating, wasted summer, Steve’s seven-year-old nephew asked him to "explain cricket”. So he picked up a pen and wrote, adding writer’s cramp to his physiotherapy/rehab requirements. "Explaining cricket” proved to be more difficult than it seemed. You can’t explain the present without context, and context implies history. And history itself has a way of veering off piste, into explanations about why Uncle is now sitting in a chair and struggling to rise, when once he climbed mountains. Which involves ideas of change, and the Tao, the watercourse way of Zen. Suddenly, we’re a long way from the forward defensive stroke … or are we?