Always remember: Everything that you think is important at your young age probably isn’t; at least least until you figure out whether what you think is unimportant actually is!
4/6/15 (I wrote this to my sons over 2 years ago when Jason was a junior in high school and Christian was still a year from starting his high school career. It seems somewhat prophetic now that J has begun his college baseball career at U of Santa Clara and C committed to play baseball at U of Washington after he graduates in 2019. Coincidence – I’m fairly certain there’s more to it than that.)
“Grace is the beauty of form under the influence of freedom.” — Friedrich Schiller
This is when life is so liberating. It’s when the exquisite and magnificent inner-structural components are pieced together so that we are momentarily elevated above the normalcy of our routine existence! Wow, that was quite the combination of “big” words and the reason is that I’m not sure I’m able to precisely describe and articulate the moments where the “grace” and “freedom” converge as mentioned above. I just know when it happens because it just seems and it feels that way!
I sometimes feel guilty because it happens so frequently during the most mundane moments when I slow down, take more in that’s around me, and make those moments not just part of me but able to surround them as opposed to letting them surround and overwhelm me.
When I read this quote, I instinctively went back to younger days and the freedom I felt during the buildup before, and the release of the usual daily boundaries right when I crossed onto the baseball field for any reason. This occurred at almost any age starting from little league through high school and up until those ultra-competitive adult leagues I played in where the quality of the players kept alive my personalized and frenzied addiction to the sport. I guess it was during those times that my life truly belonged to me, free of external obligations and responsibilities. It’s funny but even though other players and coaches surrounded me, sometimes they were just voices in the background while I settled into my own individual state of reality.
I know baseball is considered a team sport but for it to have any particular meaning so that players can perform by and through the inner power that’s possessed, it has to be experienced and measured in accordance by individual models for successful attainment of “baseball nirvana”, devoid of external restrictions or limitations. Is thIs that odd or do you guys ever feel that way because it can’t just be me, can it?
There was no one particular moment that baseball generated such an instinctive and personal state of mind but it was no doubt a combination of: the feeling of a ball settling into my glove; that same ball being released traveling stealthily along different horizontal angles and distances; an unbridled pitch that is captured, corralled, and released under the control of a bat; the acceleration around a base where the body is catapulted by the feet and legs towards the next destination that almost certainly belongs to you; and/or the “punch out” pinch or play to end an inning and jogging calmly off the mound or your position knowing that it’s all you can do to control yourself from exalting in the air and fist-pumping all the way back to the dugout (don’t do that or you’ll invite a retaliatory pitch but then again Jason would welcome getting hit by a pitch and then steal second and maybe third).
I got snippets of those days teaching and coaching you boys but living through you guys just doesn’t come close to replacing those feelings that were left behind. J and C, remember that smile on my face you saw in that old high school video I showed you? There’s no way to recall the precise thoughts in my head or during so many times after when art was inter-spliced with actual, living moments, but I’m guessing you have an idea. But the best part about being a fan of you two in the stands is that I don’t have to restrict myself from expressing the excitement you elicit out of me when you the things that seem to come so natural to you knowing that few others are capable of them.
Oh and don’t ask me to calm it down because I can’t, I won’t, and shouldn’t have to, because it’s my connection with not just you guys but a love of a sport that was created well before and evolved well before you were born! Just deal with it and bust your ass on the field because emotionally, so am I on the other side of it.
“Faith is love taking the form of aspiration.” Think of this quote and apply it to why you are still playing baseball and plan to continue to do so at a high(er) level while others couldn’t or won’t be able to forge the same transference.
Obviously you found love and enjoyment in the sport through discovery and/or influence along while growing up with so many others around you. But who’s left among those who you played against and why? I’m guessing it’s because your sport requires maximum elevation allowing maximum mental, spiritual, and physical evolution leading to maximum execution that has to be harnessed and directed towards specific objectives that form the standards of your own personal goals and aspirations. This my friends is where grace equals freedom and feeling anything different means you’re not thinking the right way, not loving the game so that it loves you back, or letting the wrong things enter in your own individual sphere to disturb what is one of the most magical and rewarding relationships that you’ll experience. Eliminate that from happening and just enjoy where the resulting freedom takes you!
Last thing: Remember the outcome will most times take care of itself if the approach is sound. Not always but once you’re in the right place and where you need to be before you cross the write lines, the only surprises in store should work in your favor and against your opponents but then again, there are really few surprises when you put everything out there that continues to form the masterpieces you create!
So get your mind right because “we seek purpose when we are not in touch with who we really are. When an apple tree discovers who it is, the question ‘what must I do?’ disappears. When you discover who you are (at the deepest part of your being) you will find your purpose.” — Colleen-Joy Page
“You were given a gift of 86,400 seconds today. Have you used one to say ‘thank you’?.”
Whether it be to God, family, friends, a loved one, or even random stranger who was kind to you, don’t miss the opportunity to express a level of gratitude. If to God, don’t forget to thank Him for the challenges and obstacles you’ll face because by exhausting your efforts to overcome them, you find and define yourself and ultimately begin to understand His intensions and why He has faith in you and each other.
Also in those numerous seconds, mix in a few hugs, smiles to others, laughs, “I love you’s”, silly moments, tears if your heart is moved that much, and reflections of the day. It took me a long time to realize this so I pass it on to you my Child. Trust me, it’s so worth it!
“To be successful you must accept all challenges that come your way. You can’t just accept the ones you like.”
Life would be so less complicated if all that we wished for flowed to us on a simple stream. All we would have to do is sit and wait for their arrivals.
No such luck nor should it be that way! Our greatest accomplishments have to be measured in some manner. Of course that has to be a study that involves a detailed reassessment of the starting point to its eventual outcome. The flawed efforts and disappointing initial results have to be factored in before recognizing the level of accomplishment.
Take this into account in the planning for your most important goals. The ship you charter towards those goals will never sail along the same route you planned. No matter how you foresee the anticipated obstacles, they present themselves differently or are either replaced with other ones.
DON’T BE FRUSTRATED OR DETERRED! This is just part of the journey and don’t just crash ahead blindly and stubbornly without thought when simple adjustments will get you to your destination quicker.
Accept this. Challenges are created by your decisions, failure to make decisions, delay in acting on decisions, or decisions made by others who by necessity (or unfortunately at times your permission) create challenges. Either way the challenges exist and it is vital that you react to them appropriately, promptly, positively, and with the commitment necessary to overcome them.
You may sometimes doubt whether you have it in you to carry on towards certain dreams because of the complexity of a problem, the effort required, and the uncertainty whether the direction you are headed is towards the proper point on the compass. DO NOT STOP other than to rest, breathe, think, get your bearings, and then keep moving.
Don’t worry about whether you have the ability. The creation of the dream was predicated by what was created in you and, fashioned by what was already within you. Where you are at is at the beginning of the discovery of what has been in you all along and what you will find in the future. Remember – “not overachievement”, just a matter of “under-discovery”!
Read the creation of challenges as set forth above again. Use what you already know about yourself to avoid their creation or just overcome them. Be confident that you have within you what has yet to be uncovered to overwhelm the unexpected and associated complications. I am a man of faith when it comes to you boys so don’t let me and more importantly, yourself down.
(Jason after semi-final win last June – days later repeated as CIF division champions)
“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired, and success achieved.” – Helen Keller
Boys, you may think it’s the victories that were finally secured that defines the ultimate measure and reward of what has been achieved. However you’d be mistaken if that’s all you base your accomplishments upon.
It must be remembered that it was the strength, determination, and resilience that you had to call upon and generate – even when convenience seemingly begged for succumbing or surrendering under the strain of the fight – that revealed more about who you are and will serve to be the genesis for the magnitude and greatness of what you can achieve throughout the journey ahead of you. It’s the unseen and solitary efforts that conquered any uncertainty that were just as meaningful as the jubilance of the final triumph because they will carry on well after the exultation subsides!
(Heart among the clouds. Excerpts from a favorite post.)
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
…But getting back to the “love” that I think Dr. King refers to or at least my my take on it and how my understanding of it has been woven into my life. I’ve written quite a bit about the transformation (of sorts) and rediscovery that’s occurred since my injury and how I’ve expressed a better comprehension of the love I needed to afford myself, those around me whether biologically or geographically, and degrees of love I needed to afford the basic elements in or near my life…
Now to be clear, anyone who knows me would never make the assertion that I express “love” for everything that happens in my life, or “love” about the totality of each person that surrounds me and those I have come across. By virtue of me being “me” with my own personal tastes, preferences, and varying tolerance for certain traits, some things eventually fall into the category of “less than loved”, under-appreciated, or tangentially annoying over time. I’m sure there may be a more tactful presentation of the foregoing blunt characterization but in lieu of an apology, I’ll just attribute this translucent honesty as a product of my age and brain injury.
However there is a precursor to whatever final conclusion is reached in my individual dealings and exploration of people and things so bear with me for a bit longer and I’ll start with this quote that I think is as spectacular in its message and presentation as the one by Dr. King: “Keep love in your heart. A life is like a sunless garden when the flowers are dead. The consciousness of loving and being loved brings a warmth and a richness to life that nothing else can bring. Who, being loved, is poor?” – Oscar Wilde…
I have before me each day a gift of 1,440 minutes and there are generally static elements that I awake to with the comfort of knowing that love for and from them will continue to surround me absent any traumatic disruption in the forces that bond us together. But by freeing and opening up myself to not just my normal routine but also the unexpected elements that present themselves, I’ve afforded myself the opportunity, possibility, and increased the probability that I will discover different aspects of “love” that can be so readily available in a life that is too magnificent to habitually ignore. It seems that the further I lean in that direction, the farther I distance myself from patterns that lead to the intractable management of more undesirable feelings and their manifestations.
The beauty of parts of our humanity is due to the fact that we are able to experience a wide gauntlet of emotions although it is rare that we entirely become masters of them no matter how diligently we attempt to keep them cornered. How often is it that we are immersed in moments where we attempt to command the sensations of heart and mind so they somehow correspond to both the adulation and criticism directed our way?
Still I’m fairly confident that it boils down to a choice of how we approach each day. Oftentimes they don’t end up as perfect as we hoped for but I’ve never been sure of the number of guaranteed outcomes we’re entitled to even when we think our best efforts have been made. Still, we can better define how most days develop for ourselves and the proportionate amounts of “love” that can be summoned from all things gently explainable and even those supremely mysterious.
And so it goes that “the way you perceive and react to the world is a choice.” – David Foster Wallace. And if given that choice, wouldn’t it be better that our expressions be symptomatic of emotions more associated with anything resembling “love” that reflect the brightness surrounding the beauty we can be behold, as opposed to anything diametrically different that darkens the best of each of those particular aspects.
It seems like a logical choice once I get past the illogical distractions and given the alternatives that could erode them, I’ll just try to seek and express the “love” that lightens all those things that continue to surround me!
“You’re going to fall down, but the world doesn’t care how many times you fall down as long as it’s one fewer than the times you get back up!” – Andrew Sorkin
As “Dicos” and my sons, please remember this about each one of us. Not one person, thing, or set of unfortunate circumstances can defeat us spiritually, mentally, or physically, even though we may be bloodied in the process. The only one that can defeat us is ourselves and only when we lose hope and faith in what lies inside of us and surrender, forgetting that there is still so much more we can draw upon to continue the fight.
As I learned from my parents, they did not finally lose to cancer until they could dictate the final terms of their existence. If you can’t change how life presents itself, change your approach so that you can adapt and change how you present yourselves it so you can overcome and achieve on your terms.
And in closing: “Never confuse a single defeat with a final defeat.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald
(I came across one of my earliest posts that was written to my sons and the message reverberated within my soul as I reread it and how I want to invest in the 1,440 minutes of each day ahead of me.)
“Carry out a random act of kindness, with no expectation of reward, safe in the knowledge that one day someone might do the same for you.” – Princess Diana
So now I’m going to ask you boys for something which is less a request and more of a challenge and test to reveal more about both of you. In a way it’s something you owe yourselves as part of your own personal discovery as you approach your lives, and how others see you and/or may be affected by you. At a minimum after all I’ve written and hopefully assisted you with, this is something that you owe me.
Life has a funny way of working out but many things are not really random. It can be excellent at times and others, well not so much. Our ability to make an average day better from our own efforts is not something we should take for granted when we boil it down to its basics. The best part of our day and overall existence should not be the greatest gifts we receive but the simplest gifts we give and just maybe, create for others.
You boys by virtue of being athletes, relatively easy on the eyes, personable, charming, fairly witty, etc., consequently may fall into the “popular” and “admired” categories, at least in the youthful and uncomplicated arenas of your existence. All of this changes in the college settings where you can get overlooked in a larger population and the grading scale of success is different.
So take this time to use this aspect of your status to reach out to those who would never imagine that you would even acknowledge them. They are no less important than those you regularly interact with and importantly, can add a new dimension to your emerging interpersonal skills by exploring their own unique and distinctive attributes. You just might be surprised that by performing this simple act of altruism, you may expand your understanding of your infinite coexistence with a few of the 7 billion people on this planet.
This a perfect time to attempt to figuratively “touch someone” in an unexpected and meaningful fashion because of the daily paths you cross in your school communities. When you get older and in your professional world, you will meet a lot of people who you are essentially required to interact with, and consequently it’s financially beneficial to excel in that capacity. But how authentic are those interactions when the objectives are more self-serving than a genuine extension of the best of who you are. No excuses required – they’re just the frequent trap that engulfs us. It’s unfortunate to find that we ignore the opportunities, either due to the hectic pace or schedule of our days, to slow down and capitalize on the random lives that we can affect or be affected by.
So my challenge is to make a simple attempt this next week (or longer) to acknowledge the unlikeliest of suspects whether it be another student, teacher, staff member, janitor, acquaintance, etc., who may fall outside your normal social sphere and would least expect it – I’m sure you can think of a few people who fall in that category. Take an extra few seconds to just say “hi” or “how are you” to that person and pay attention to the response, if any, and do it at least one more time in the upcoming days. If done only once, it can be construed as a fluke or aberration. Importantly, initiate the encounter and use the person’s name, look at them, smile, and again at a minimum, wait for some sort of response and then take it however you wish from there. Don’t think about it too much – just try it because there’s no reason not to and you might find a surprising return on the investment.
I’m not asking you to adopt my routine because frankly, you probably think I’m nuts! I have the time, desire, and my own personal objectives which essentially involve gratitude for where I’m at and where I want my soul to remain.
Some might think I reach out to so many random individuals outside of my comfort zone for attention but that’s where they’d be mistaken. My intention has never been to draw attention to myself (although that’s often the outcome), but to give my attention to those around me who deserve or maybe could just use it. In the end though, I know that I benefit from it in too many ways to count and describe in detail.
All of our lives offer so many unnoticed and undiscovered things which really take little awareness to uncover. Sometimes we get so locked inside our routines to appreciate what’s in front of us because we think external demands and distractions insist upon it. Let’s be clear – they shouldn’t, they’re really not as significant as you think, and you can control your approach to them, all for the better!
So please be thoughtful in everything you do, and let that also include those who just happen to be part of your surroundings because the opportunities are abundant and shouldn’t be ignored.
And you want to know why it should come easy? Because it’s the way you were raised, it’s who you are, and it honors your parents and those who influenced you to be that way. Now please your Dad and rise to the challenge!