A bit of fortune had found me as I arrived at my destination early. I was testing the boundaries of quantum physics at attempting to be at many places at one time. I sir or madam, am a sports parent.
After performing a perfect drop at a baseball game, then dashing to get my other to a soccer game to then meet up someplace else a few moments later, I unfolded my weathered nylon chair and assumed my position at the sidelines of the soccer field.
My daughter trotted off to meet her teammates off to the side as the other team was still engaged in their own game currently on the field. I was not aware that the typical protocol of conduct was to stand back and wait your turn to unfold your foldable chair along the sideline until the prior team has departed or at least until the game was concluded. I mean I was ealry for crying out loud. That should allow for something. I sat oblivious in the sunshine.
I did not know who was playing. I knew no one nor the team names, rankings, or favorites. I simply watched. Both teams were impressive for the young men were of approximate middle school age and played like champs. Since I was not attached to either team, I enjoyed every moment. I also noticed that my heart rate was stable as I simply enjoyed what I was in the presence of. I couldn’t label any play as “good or bad” as I was rooting for no one in particular. To me it was “X” versus “Y”.
I then pondered how I may be able to learn from this. I like my lessons obscure. I wondered how life may be a bit more tolerable if we were not so attached to a “side”, or an opinion, or an identity. I wondered, “Could I live without the 'versus' in my life?” I also wondered how I may be able to spend more time simply observing–living without attachment to the “score” that I may gain greater serenity and perhaps lowered stress and blood pressure–a tall order indeed.
I recalled then a glorious day from my past. I asked my then eighty three year-old grandmother to go play golf. My grandfather had passed away and she lived alone alongside a small town golf course. He was a one-time club champion that had a love-affair with the sport–she, a petite woman of small stature a competent golfer as well.
I remembered as his cancer was taking the final shreds of his memory; he was peering out his living room picture window that overlooked the town golf course. He stated longingly, “I wish I could get back out and play a round of...” He forgot what it was called. Cancer turned out the lights on the last of his favorite memories. The game was called “golf” dear sir.
My grandmother and I met on a sunny morning in the cart that belonged to my grandfather. My octogenarian grandmother, I called her Grandmama, slowly asserted her way to the tee. She methodically went through the motions like a champ preparing her shot. With smooth yet feeble grace she raised the club until it rested back on her shoulder. She yanked it down using her shoulder as a lever until the club connected with the ball propelling it a straight and smooth hundred yards or so. I tried to impress her and shanked it about two hundred yards into the woods off to the right. I took a drop by hers.
I offered that we tear up the score card and just chat. I learned she was an artist. I heard of her young life. We shared precious company. I listened as she spoke of Granddaddy. I miss him. I heard things that I may not have heard as well if I were so worried about the score–about how I would turn out at the end of the game. I miss her also. She passed as the nasty of nasties got her too. She left me with the gift of a memory I won’t soon forget.
As my stroll down memory lane was disturbed by the screams, taunts, and bellers from the parents flanking me yelling at or for one of the players in front of me, I became thankful for another moment I could live without the score card. I was reminded of the importance of the practice of being the observer.
By allowing and observing I find I am lesser of a victim of random circumstances as I once thought I was. People do not pull out in front of me in traffic to beat me to where I am going. I am not living without some things that I desire because others “beat” me to it. They were more adept, and it was simply not my turn yet. I am not always in the Super Bowl with me versus them. It is okay to watch without labels and opinions.
I love the thrill of a good competition as much as the next guy. I truly do. But I realize that I must try to remain aware of when there is no match, game, or competition. I must remain aware when it is okay to simply tear up the score card and try to enjoy the sport. I must try to seek out times to relax in a place where I can root for all the players playing. I will try to treat more people like my son’s baseball coach and look for the ways I can express “great job”, “nice play”, “good catch”, even when the out puts someone on the bench.
So if you see a guy sitting on the sidelines smiling, nodding in approval, or cheering on your efforts, and you have no clue at all who that could be, maybe it will be me. I could care less about your score. Just know that in the heart of competition though, it may not occur in the fall at the sideline of a Michigan and Ohio State Game. When it comes to that, it is Buckeyes all the way!