For the Love of the Game


So, I went off on a little tangent yesterday when writing about my sudden interest in baseball, that had less to do with the game, and more, shall we say, with the players.

But, seriously, with the help of my husband's commentary, I gained a huge appreciation for this cliché American pastime.. one could even say, I totally GOT it.

Far from what for most of my life appeared to be a hell of a boring activity to watch, it was actually filled with intrigue, strategy, tension, mind games, and the fascinating interaction of dynamic personalities in a very highly-pressurized situation.

I marveled at the rhythm of compression and activity, the yang and the yin... as the intensity would build between pitcher and batter, and then be released with a whack of the bat, exploding into activity out in the field.

Like the one-on-one of tennis or martial arts, it would all come down to two guys (or three, if you count the catcher, who also held a crucial place in this part of the dance)... and a momentary but intense interplay; a meeting and clashing of training, skills, and ego.

But then with a swing and a crack, the rest of the team, already focused and ready to come into play, would spring into action, working together seamlessly like a finely tuned machine.

Simply glorious.

As I watched, I tried to contemplate what lessons I might take away from this experience.

I imagined that there were already a great number of metaphors between baseball and life... such as the wisdom in playing the short game, instead of trying to hit it out of the park every time... blah, blah, blah.

So, I took it to a more personal and somewhat spiritual level.

It may have been a coincidence that the first game I got into was on Halloween night.

There had been several twitter conversations about costume-wearing being a mode of psychological healing... the act of dressing up and temporarily but completely embodying an estranged aspect of yourself.

I walked around the neighborhood that night wearing a Phillies cap, disguised as a fan.

Funny how complete the transformation had become. Suddenly, with a piece of branded headwear, I now became identified with a certain group. And by implication, I was also in direct opposition to another group. 

Which was weird and somehow arbitrary. But also a little exhilarating.

The irony being that I've been spending a lot of time and energy on cultivating my awareness of one-ness, and now I just threw myself headlong into one of the most divisive mindsets of our modern society... beside politics and religion: I became a sports fan.

Suddenly one of my favorite twitter buds became an 'enemy'.. playfully of course, but still, there we were, hurling public insults at each other.

And as I watched the other team, because of my recently-acquired loyalty to my own, they appeared to me to be aggressive, ugly, and obviously worth defeating. Preferably shamefully.

Even though I was well aware that if they were my home team, or even playing anyone else, because of their obvious skill and fortitude, I would be totally rooting for them and celebrating all of those previously undesirable qualities.

How interesting. To now have preferences and aggression and emotional investment and hotly debated opinions and concern over outcomes and a willingness to lose sleep -- all because of a choice to identify with a certain group of people.

A game for the ego to revel in.

A game which I have the luxury of easily divesting myself from.

But, then, it's all a game, really.

Isn't it?