11/22/2011 10:57 am ET Updated Jan 22, 2012

Zend It Like Beckham

Obviously, a soccer star has two lives. On the field, measures are equal. Off the field, measures are unequal; the star is in control. Watching David Beckham at the press conference in the bowels of the Home Depot Center after his gutsy performance helped LA Galaxy to victory in the MLS Cup final Sunday night, he bent his answers in arcs of warmth and happiness, raising laughter and likeability, poised, true to his nature -- Zend it like Beckham.

Beckham is the Zen player of the age. Take the form -- the ball: Beckham's feet have the feeling for it; and connected to the perception is his uncanny production of the crossing arc: his impulse strikes him, measuring up the distance instantly; the pressure of foot on ball to target; the consciousness, a string through the emptiness of the sky.

You can't buy that kind of wisdom, or nonsense, down at Walmart but it may be available in Beverly Hills, alongside pearl teeth and agelessness. Beckham was asked to sum up his life in LA and concluded his answer with "thank you." His family life in California has been wonderful, a great place for his kids to grow up, he said. A world removed from the ashram of Manchester, England, from whence he came. Beckham served as a grasshopper under a soccer master called Ferguson, often blind with ping-pong fury when opposing forces squashed his grasshopper collection in front of his nose on the soccer field. Once, the Master Ferguson threw a kung-fu fit, chopping a soccer boot in the air, allegedly whacking the grasshopper Beckham in the face. The door to the Manchester ashram was closing. Like Siddhartha, Beckham was awakening, and he played with the playboys of Madrid for a time, until those galacticos burned out. Seeking another sun, he found it in California, welcomed to another galaxy, the Hollywood solar system of beaches, tans and perfect-orbit buns.

At the winner's press conference, next to Becks (his English tabloid nickname, a nod to a culture with beer on the brain) sat his American soccer master, the brahmin, Bruce Arena. The LA Galaxy coach is all about citta, heart and mind as one, the opposite of the conflicted rumble of Master Ferguson. And it is under Arena that Beckham found his soccer nature in the late evening of his play (see the wisdom, or nonsense, of paragraph two above.) Should he depart for the tastes of Paris, jouer au football, his achievement at the Galaxy in the past season will be remembered as a summit for the end of his journey with the ball, to begin without it. That's the zend.

Read more wisdom, or nonsense, from Alan Black at The Header.