Category Archives: Coping

Home Runs and Hail Marys

As the heat rose outside to 102° last weekend, I chilled in front of my television, cheering on my home teams:  The Dodgers, Angels, Trojans and Bruins (Los Angeles, Anaheim, USC and UCLA, respectively).  I am still in shock as I write.  “There is no joy in Mudville.  [All my teams] struck out.”

Nevertheless, the don’t-ever-give-up attitude of the Cardinals, Royals, Razorbacks and Utes (St. Louis, Kansas City,  Arizona State, and University of Utah) inspires me.  Each was expected to lose.  Three fought back from significant deficits.  The fourth – Kansas City – was a dark horse.  None of them lost heart.  They played hard until the end of the game.

Here are the basics:

  • The Dodgers were ahead, 6 – 2 at the beginning of the seventh inning and had the country’s best pitcher on the mound.  St. Louis scored eight runs in the seventh, including a three-run homer.  St. Louis won, 10 – 9.
  • The Angels, with the best record in baseball, were playing Kansas City for the division title.  The Royals had not played in the post-season for 29 years and were the odds-on favorite to lose.  Instead, they won the first two games and did so with home runs in the ninth innings.
  • In college football, USC expected an easy win over Arizona.  They were so far ahead that, at one point, I felt sorry for the Razorbacks.  When Arizona scored three touchdowns in the last four minutes, my sympathy evaporated.  Arizona won with a  jaw-dropping 46-yard Hail Mary pass to the goal line in the final second of the game.
  • In my final blow of the weekend, UCLA lost to Utah Saturday night.  UCLA was down at the half (7 -17) but rallied for what eventually looked like a certain victory.  The Utes refused to give up.  In the last minutes, they scored again.  UCLA missed a field goal with 34 seconds remaining and Utah won, 30 – 28.

After winning Game One of the series, Eric Hosmer of the Kansas City Royals, said,  “It’s fun to be the underdog — you don’t have anything to lose.”

I wish I had known that as a child.  I grew up with two older brothers against whom I don’t believe I ever won a game of Monopoly, Risk, or Ping-Pong.  I didn’t have a chance against razor-sharp brothers who were four and eight years older than I.   But I was gullible or delusional, because I kept agreeing to play.  About halfway through each game, I usually gave up and resigned myself to losing.

Years later, I still hear those tapes in my head telling me to pack it in.  I know what it is like to be in the shoes of those who look at the scoreboard and see a chasm.  It takes guts, resilience, and a devil-may-care attitude to persevere and play hard to the end.

Sure, my teams suffered what were for us, heart-breaking losses.  But by the fourth time I watched a team battle against the odds and win, I was not only depressed.  I was inspired.

Yadier Molina, the Cardinals’ catcher, said, “When we [were] down 6 – 1, it seemed improbable.  What else can you do?  Just keep fighting . . . . We really had no other choice.”

Yes they did.  Many people choose to give up.  The Cardinals made a choice and chose to keep fighting.  My take-away for the sports weekend:  Play hard with all your heart until the last whistle blows.

 

 

Strength and Courage

In a box of dusty papers lay a treasure buried years ago:  a poem from Mother on the importance of both strength and courage.  Her hand-written note across the top of the page made this an even greater treasure, “For Barbara, who exemplifies this better than anyone I know.  Lovingly, Mom.”

From Mother’s hand and my dusty box, from my heart to your eyes, words on strength and courage:

Strength and Courage

It takes strength to be firm.
It takes courage to be gentle.

It takes strength to stand guard.
It takes courage to let down your guard.

It takes strength to be certain.
It takes courage to have doubt.

It takes strength to fit in.
It takes courage to stand out.

It takes strength to feel a friend’s pain.
It takes courage to feel your own pain.

It takes strength to hide your own pains.
It takes courage to show them.

It takes strength to endure abuse.
It takes courage to stop it.

It takes strength to stand alone.
It takes courage to lean on another.

It takes strength to love.
It takes courage to be loved.

It takes strength to survive.
It takes courage to live.
(Author Unknown)

*Personal Update:  Some people tour national parks during the summer.  I toured emergency rooms and urgent care clinics, instead.  I recovered quickly from a round of pneumonia, thanks to care I received in an Omaha hospital.   Outpatient cataract surgery gave me better vision than I’ve had since high school.   My recently broken foot has mended. An adrenal deficiency is still problematic and its cause undiagnosed.  Heart and lungs are behaving well.  Next summer I want to visit parks.

Passport to Happiness

A friend found a yellowed paper in his father’s desk after his dad died.  It described his father’s approach to life.  Dad didn’t wait for happiness at a future time, nor did he expect it to be given to him.  He knew that happiness and joy reside within us if we choose them.  He chose happiness and joy.  Here is part of the foundation on which he built his life and the grace with which he faced an incurable cancer.

Passports to Happiness
We permit too many opportunities for happiness to slip by because we labor under two major delusions.  One of these is that we shall be happy when–
When we arrive at a certain destination;
When we can be with a certain person;
When our schooling is finished;
When we get a better job:
When we arrive at a certain income;
When we are married;
When the baby is born;
When we recover from our illness;
When our bills are paid;
When we own a new car;
When we move into a new home;
When some disagreeable task is finished;
When we are free from some encumbrance.

The second delusion is that we can buy a ticket, or pay admission, to happiness.  We seem never to learn that, wherever we go, we take our happiness or unhappiness with us; and that whatever we do; it is how much of ourselves we put into the doing which influences our happiness–far more than what the outside world contributes.

The only way we can insure happiness is to train ourselves to be happy in spite of, not because of, what life does to us.  When we succeed in doing this, we become wise and useful adults.

David Dunn, date unknown
photo by Mark Smutny