I’ve been thinking…

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Houston, I think we have a problem.

Imagine a human standing in front of you asking you a question.  It is not the easiest question for you to answer.  In fact, you would rather turn, run in the opposite direction and dive into a hole filled with fat,slimy earthworms than answer the question.  But this person is in front of you. Face to face.  Eye to eye.  Nose to nose.  So you dig down deep inside of you and you find the courage to answer the question to the best of your ability.  Phew. That was hard, but you did it, and it may not have been the perfect answer, but you faced the question and you did not run away. I say good for you.

Texting.  It’s a bit crazy to me how this technology has severely wounded the sensitivity and even common sensical part of human nature: we speak. we listen. we respond.

Curiously, with a cellular device in our hand we transcend humanity and become the all-powerful, fearless immortal.  We kick aside three of the four Buddhist virtues: compassion, empathetic joy, and loving-kindness. Suddenly, a person writes things that they would never say in person or they avoid completely questions that they do not want to answer.As far as practicing non-reaction?  You just  hit that send button and shoot of something that has the power to ruin someone’s day.  You don’t have to look at that person and see the damage your writing may have done. Worst even, maybe you don’t even care.

I like human voices.  I like to see smiles and hear laughter. One of the things that I deepened my understanding in through yoga is the power of touch. Humans!  We need to work on this.  We need to teach others to do this.  I believe it will increase happiness in ourselves, our homes, our communities, and maybe even someday in the world.

Remember this.  Those great memories that you have were not from reading a screen, they were made from hearing words or doing things with others, or maybe with the help and support of others.  People give hope to one another with the power of eye to eye contact, and the intonation of our voices.

Lifting each other up, cheering each other on…are not products of technology. Let’s be mindful with our writing.

I was just thinking about that.

The Babe got it right.

Baseball was, is and always will be to me the best game in the world.~ Babe Ruth

Major League Baseball held the 83rd All-Star-Game tonight.  Ahhh.  The Midsummer Classic.  I imagine the fun that players must have sharing the field and playing on the same team, when they are so used to playing against each another.  Kind of a warm, fuzzy feeling  -a we’re all in this together kind of feeling.  In 1933, on July 6, the first Major League All-Star-Game was played at Comiskey Park in Chicago, and for years baseball’s best have been playing in this all time fan favorite-  making summer memories for young and old alike.

Baseball.  One of my favorite things.

“I believe in the Church of Baseball. I’ve tried all the major religions and most of the minor ones. And the only church that truly feeds the soul, day-in day-out, is the Church of Baseball.” ~Susan Sarandon, Bull Durham
Boys and girls everywhere are enamored with this sport.  I remember a night many years ago when I was presented with the Red Sox Yearbook.   “We got this for you.” my brother said when he and my father returned home from Fenway Park.   I pored over that publication for days, memorized stats, faces, and photographs of players who at the time were 3 times my age.  And so my love affair with the sport was taking root.

Countless times  in the evenings at my house, my father would strategically place his transistor radio on the edge of our deck as he worked outside.  The familiar sound of the play-by-play was the accompaniment to my gymnastics routines (mostly cartwheels) in the grass.

From my backyard you could also hear the  chants of Little Leaguers ringing through the air nightly.  They came from the park directly behind my house.  We were so close I could hear the crack of the bat, and see proud parents watching intently as their little ones played the game.

All I know is when we win a game, it’s a team win. When we lose a game, it’s a team loss.~Coach Morris Butermaker, The Bad News Bears (1976)

Fenway Park

Baseball fields are special places.  Take the base path.  The simple diamond that beckons:  “Come and run on me.  Slide on me, dive on me, laugh on me, get dirty on me, and mess me up!  That’s what I’m here for.”

Baseball dirt.  It’s special dirt.

The grass.  Soft and green, it says, “Play on me.  Stand on me, chat on me, laugh on me.  Lie down on me.  Dream on me.  I can take you places.  Just sit with me…be it blue skies, clouds, rain, or stars.”

It’s special grass, that baseball grass.

Dugouts. Or maybe just team benches.  Whatever they look like, they are places where precious time is passed.  Friendships are forged.  Rules are followed.  Laughter reigns free, and spirit is alive.  Sadness and disappointment will visit as well, but lessons are learned in these places.

“There is always some kid who may be seeing me for the first or last time, I owe him my best.” Source: The Sporting News (April 4, 1951)  ~Joe DiMaggio

Baseball holds an extra special place in my heart.  “As American as apple pie,” the game has been like my constant companion in life, lulling me to sleep as I lied in bed as a small child, holding my hand in elementary school, sitting on my shoulder throughout torrid Junior High moments, beckoning me to celebrate with the boys in high school, and acting as a calming force in my young adult years.

And so…

“People ask me what I do in winter when there’s no baseball. I’ll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring.” ~Rogers Hornsby

I do the same thing.

Cooperstown Field of Dreams Park

50/50 (as I saw it.)

 

I hesitated, staring blankly at the TV screen, wondering…do I really want to watch this movie right now?  I was about to go on the treadmill for what I hoped would be a good 5 mile run, and I really didn’t want to watch a sad movie. Was this movie even sad?  I wasn’t sure, but I clicked “buy now” and started running.

50/50 tells the story of Adam Lerner, an endearing young public radio producer (with a winsome smile.)  At 27 years old, Adam is diagnosed with spinal cancer.  Although the movie covers an obviously serious subject, the comic relief is hilarious, and perfectly timed.  In my opinion, the movie’s main focus is on relationships, and is so well acted that there are times when, through mere facial expressions, you “get it.” You understand what remains unsaid.   This is especially true if you have had personal experience with the familiar battle that cancer has thrown so many of us into.  What I liked most as I watched his story was how my mind became flooded with memories and feelings that I hadn’t thought about or felt in a long time.  The feelings that had softened with the passage of time.  The memories that humble me as I trek my own journey through this life.

My father lost his courageous battle with cancer in October 2010.  I am grateful for many of the moments that my family and friends shared as we traveled that arduous road together.  Using 50/50 as my inspiration,  I would like to share some lessons I learned during the months of his illness.

Lesson #1: Not everyone can  “jump right in”  to a given situation and be fine with it. Patience and understanding are essential so that we may help others adjust to what is happening.  There is a scene in the move in which Adam is talking with his girlfriend Rachel.  She tells him she does not want to go into the hospital because she doesn’t want to mix the “negative” hospital atmosphere with the “positive” atmosphere  present in her life.  “It’s an energy thing.”  she states.  I bet that many moviegoers were upset with her at this moment.  I thought about it for a while after she said it, and concluded that she wasn’t crazy for thinking that way.  I felt the same way during the early days of my father’s illness.  I remember walking into the hospital for one of the first “post diagnosis” doctor visits with my dad.  I was thinking…”Here we go.  My life will be forever altered starting now…no matter how this thing turns out…and guess what, I’m not ready!”  So for everyone who was upset with Rachel in that scene, I understand, but beg to differ.

Lesson #2: Listening is important.  It is never just about “you.”  That “you” includes the patient as well.  Adam’s relationship with his mother is strained.  Communication is difficult, and many things remain unsaid.  I learned that everyone matters and everyone feels… so everyone hurts.  My family and friends needed to talk to each other, and we needed both to listen and be heard.  Yes, love triumphs over all between Adam and his mother, but I won’t give away what happens.

Lesson #3: One good friend is all you really need. (family aside)  Nobody is perfect, but in his or her own way, that friend is walking the road with you as best he can.  You can accept your own fate, but you cannot accept your fate for a friend. That is something a friend needs to do on his own… and man…it’s not easy.

Lesson #4: Out of the bad always comes some good.  During difficult times like Adam’s, we meet new people, who may even become permanent parts of our lives.  The truth is that even if they don’t, and you never see those people again after your experience together…they have left an indelible mark on your heart forever. Believe it.

Lesson #5:  This life does not last forever.  Yes, we stare our mortality right in the face.  I learned that death is not something to be feared.  I am not afraid to die.

These lessons may not ring true for everyone, as I can only speak from personal experience.  The days, weeks, and months spent in and out of hospitals and doctors’ offices that accompany the diagnosis of any illness are difficult for everyone affected; the patient, the family, the best friend. The world looks completely different through the eyes of a family battling disease.  Our experiences can teach us during this time if we choose to be open to learning.

Nicely done 50/50…and thanks for the memories.

P.S.  The greatest thing about this post is that I did not know the movie was based on a true story when it wrote it.  That just makes the movie even better.