Baseball and suffering

When I was younger, baseball made me suffer. I believed what Bart Giamatti said about the game: “It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart.” When the Orioles lost a big game I was stuck in a foul cloud for hours or days afterwards. When Tanya first encountered me in this state she literally could not believe it had to do with baseball, and really probed to figure out what had really happened. But it was baseball. That’s what happened. Baseball.

I’m different now. I can watch the Orioles lose while wishing they would win and not feel the same kind of angry, bitter suffering I used to. I don’t know what made it change. It might just be the psychic arc of middle age. It’s not that I care less. When they win — whether it’s the good 2014 Orioles getting the ALCS or the awful contemporary version of the team having a rare good night — I thrill to it, just like I have since I was a kid. When they lose, I move on.

It would be good to bring this change to all areas of life. Not to stop caring, but to stop sinking into anger and suffering when things don’t go the way I want. I don’t know how I did it for baseball, so I don’t know how to do it for anything else. Maybe I should just pretend everything is baseball.

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4 thoughts on “Baseball and suffering

  1. JSE says:

    This post brought to you by Thich Nhat Hanh, whose little book about anger I am reading right now. I thought the book would be corny, but it’s good. The post is my attempt to understand what he’s saying in a context that feels more concrete for me than the general domain of mindfulness does.

  2. gmcdavid says:

    The 1969 Chicago Cubs took care of that problem for me and baseball. Extending that to other parts of my life is taking a lot longer.

  3. Dave Scocca says:

    I have a tendency to be a relatively happy fan of the Philadelphia Eagles. Now, for the record, I only became an Eagles fan in college. We used to live quite near Memorial Stadium, and I was a fan of both the Orioles and the Baltimore Colts.

    So as an Eagles fan, the fact that I can wake up each morning secure in the knowledge that they have not been stolen away to Indianapolis means that any and all other disappointments are maybe not such a big deal.

  4. Ralph E Dratman says:

    There has to be some sort of symmetry between your “I like that” and “I hate that” responses. Otherwise the system would not conserve energy.

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