One of my favorite episodes of the West Wing deals with letting the mind wander. To drift. To dream. In it, there’s a long discussion that posits the tension between idealism and practicality. That the nature of life is often bursting against the constraints of reality. A romantic vision of a visionary rebelling against the bonds of the nitty gritty.
I’m sure that the episode is a bit overwrought and annoyingly pretentious now. I’m also sure that I’m regarded with the same (and more!) sentiment. I am nothing if not on brand, I guess.
But I still very much feel a real longing for the opportunity to dream. The opportunity to allow ourselves a flight of fantasy. To let our thoughts mingle, if only for a moment, among the stars.
This weekend planted Liverpool right smack into the place of dream weaving. Because, by the close of Sunday, Liverpool were owners of an 8 point lead at the top of the table after a breathless run of results that included a last-gasp snatch of a victory from the jaws of a draw.
The dreams we craft serve a purpose. They fill us for the difficult journey we take, allowing our souls to be revived and refreshed because we remember the hope of what we might be moving towards.
A Premier League season is incredibly long. And for a side like Liverpool who is competing in the Champions League, Carabao Cup, FA Cup, and the FIFA Club World Cup, the sheer number of matches is daunting. Add to that the fact that with a squad the quality of Liverpool’s, even off-seasons don’t really feel like a break with so many on international duty with their respective teams.
We look for breaks, then. And we’ve got one right now with the international break officially commencing. Sure, much like last summer, it isn’t quite time off for some of Liverpool’s squad. But for us fans, this break allows us that bit of respite to go from the intense thrill and focus of watching our favorite players go out and try to win all of the things week-to-week.
And this break, given what’s come before and what is still to come, is perfect for dreaming.
2019 is going to mark the end of the decade. Lots of lists - some already out - will be made to celebrate the major milestones or contributions or works to have occurred over the past 10 years. In the world of football, I can’t think of many projects that has looked quite like Liverpool’s incredible turnaround. Not in the last 9 years that I’ve been a serious fan of Premier League football, anyway.
And while I know that that my experience is heavily influenced by my time as a Child of the Hodgepocalypse - a time so grim that I am still standing here, in the sun, blinking my eyes unsure of what blinding goodness this is - I have to believe that the resurrection of Liverpool under Fenway Sports Group is among the greatest turnarounds in the history of the game. Once on the brink of administration and the accompanying threat of relegation, Liverpool have climbed back to their place among the best in Europe.
It is that starting place that also makes this moment feel so sweet and rich. Then, I couldn’t imagine anything like the scenes at Anfield against Barcelona or the chest-swelling pride in watching our team paraded through the streets as conquerors of Europe. I simply couldn’t dream of it.
I want to take this international break, then, to allow myself to soak in this dreamy moment. To allow my mind to drift into the spaces I’d long resisted. This team is special and in a way that I’m not sure we can even fully evaluate yet. The kind of special that we will tell our kids and their kids about.
I want to let myself believe that this new dawn will finally have us see the Promised Land. That our days of searching for that missing piece of silverware are finally, well-and-truly over.
I know that we’ve got a lot of season yet before us. One that sees the fixtures pile up pretty thick in December - further complicated given our involvement in the Club World Cup. We also need to buck the trend of a January swoon.
That’s tomorrow’s problem. Today? Today is all about the dreaming. Because for those of us who’ve wondered when the clouds might finally lift and the sun might finally dawn as a supporter of this great club, we’ve earned this moment. So dream. And let tomorrow’s practicalities tend to themselves for now. Dream to fill ourselves for the rest of the journey.