As I wrote last week, I have learned a lot about life from spring. These “deep” observations have come with increasing speed as I am winding down my 50th year and fast approaching my 51st birthday. For those who have been following, I have spent the past year reflecting on what this half-century of life has taught me and writing about it here.
It is funny what has come into my mind during this process, including the realization that for one reason or another, I stopped doing many things I used to enjoy when I was young. That includes watching and going to baseball games. While I might not follow the same team that I did then, now that baseball season is back, I am enjoying it just as much as I did when I was 14, maybe even more.
To me, sports, favorite teams, and rivalries are like politics and religion; it can either bring people closer together, or pull them further apart. And, while I have friends who swear that baseball is the most boring game on the planet, to me I find it endlessly fascinating. And, since I am analyzing everything through my 50th year lens, I have also gleaned some important lessons from America’s favorite pastime. Here are just a few of them.
Always take a break. A baseball game wouldn’t be complete without the 7th inning stretch. Never missed or skipped, it is tradition and one that doesn’t seem likely to go away any time soon. It reminds us that no matter how important we think our task at hand is, there’s always time to stop, stretch, and rejuvenate ourselves. If the pressure of playing in the World Series doesn’t stop the 7th inning stretch, that big report, or even book chapter you are working on, can be put on hold long enough for you to take a break and get some fresh air, eat a healthy snack or take a short nap.
You don’t always know if something is foul or fair right away. In baseball, a ball is determined to be fair or foul depending on the relative position of the ball and the foul line. Unlike in real life, in baseball, the foul line is constant. And, unless there is a really bad call by an umpire or an unusual hit that can take some time to interpret, it is usually pretty easy to call. But in life, there’s often not a clear line to guide us, and we can sometimes flounder trying to determine if something that has happened to us is either really good, or really bad when it isn’t something we expected or wanted. It just reminds me to not rush to make any judgments or decisions about things, and to step back and take some time to analyze it first.
Neither a slump nor a streak last forever. This is even truer in life. Bad things happen in life, that is just part of the deal that comes with being alive. It doesn’t mean you are cursed, or bad, or jinxed, it just means you are alive. But, the bad doesn’t last forever, there is also plenty of good that goes along with it. Sometimes it might be hard to see the good when so many things go wrong, but it is still there if you just look closely enough. As I have learned during my 50th year, do those things that make you happy. Often those things are the little things like working in the garden, walking at the beach, going out with friends, and watching baseball. They remind me how much good there is in my life.
As baseball great Yogi Berra said, “It’s not over until it’s over.” That’s not just true in baseball but, in so many other things in life as well. Although I promised my friend I would not mention my favorite team by name (her favorite team is our main rival), I will just say that even when a team is pretty much written off and thought to be done, they can beat the odds and go on to win the World Series. Remember this when you are struggling with obstacles and odds that seem to be against you. The only way that something is really over is if you give up on yourself, or end something too early because you are scared. Do not let fear stop you from doing the things that you want to do. Do them completely so that you can look yourself in the mirror and know that you gave it your all.
Every season brings a fresh start. If baseball players let losing a game or a series get to them, there would be no baseball season. Every season and every game means a fresh start. No matter how bad a game is they don’t quit, they keep hitting, pitching, catching and playing because they know that there’s always tomorrow, or the next game. We all have the same chance each day that we wake up. Beating yourself up for something that happened in the past only prevents you from moving forward. Acknowledge what you did, how you can improve it and then forgive yourself and move on.