“Baseball is like church. Many attend, but few understand.”
–Wes Westrum, Catcher for the NY Giants 1947 – 57
A while back, I sought the advice of a spiritual guru who came strongly recommended by a friend. After transitioning into a job that increased my pay but decreased my joy, I was questioning, feeling stuck, and seeking some outside perspective. After we met and our conversation deepened, it turned toward the topic of “what are you really passionate about”. My face lit up as I spoke about my love of the Giants and of baseball in general. “Baseball is one of my favorite things in the world,” I proclaimed with gusto. With a somewhat perplexed expression, she kindly suggested that I had more important things to do with my time than watch baseball. From her perspective, baseball was a frivolous distraction from my true “life path”, something that lacked the profundity of a deeper calling. I felt sad, and completely misunderstood. Then I started to think more about it, and my reaction changed to “Really???” If you’ve ever seen a Saturday Night Live Seth & Amy “Really?” skit, maybe you can hear the voice I was hearing in my head too 🙂 She just didn’t get me; that’s all there was to it.
As far as distractions go, sure — I can see where she might have been headed. Some people spend all their time watching sports and totally disengaging from the real world. This particular person spent all her time in the world of spirit, and none in the world of sports, so it just didn’t make any sense to her as to why someone would be so head over heals about baseball. Having spent an equal amount of time perusing sports and pursuing spiritual growth, I’ve seen both become a crutch. Weekend warriors can spend their lives flipping channels from one sport to the next, while personal growth junkies can hop from book to book, seminar to seminar. Almost anything can consume us, whether it be the socially acceptable forms of distraction like overworking, over-checking our cell phones, or over-Netflix binging, or something more subversive like drinking, drugs, porn or gambling. At the end of the day, the real question for me, when it came to baseball, was this just a diversion from reality, or did spirit smile on this pastime?
Are you still with me? You might be thinking, “What the hell is she talking about, is spirit smiling on it?” Here’s the thing, and something I’ve come to believe — the activities that are aligned with our highest good are abounding in synchronicity. Crazy coincidences. Baby blessings. Happy accidents (as Bob Ross… does anyone know Bob Ross?… would say). Where baseball is concerned, my world is saturated in synchronicity. So much amazing and yummy goodness has come from this baseball love of mine that I don’t even know where to begin.
Different people have different interests, and some can’t possibly wrap their brains around why a particular thing holds special meaning to a person. Certain pastimes hold no appeal for me, but if they bring someone else joy, far be it from me to disparage them. I don’t share the same love for all of the hobbies that my friends and family hold dear, but when I see something completely light them up and spark their creativity, I smile widely upon it. The world doesn’t need more automatons, it needs more people who are animated, more people who are in love with life. Baseball (especially Giants baseball) is one of those things that makes me feel alive. I love the me who loves baseball–vibrant, passionate, filled with delight. Bring it on! I want more of that me, and to see more of that in others.
The great author, philosopher and civil rights activist Howard Thurman once said, “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” Howard had the right idea. And no matter what anyone says, ever, I will keep on loving baseball. It’s not a distraction, it’s a devotion. Ain’t nothing wrong with that.