(Time to read: ~3 minutes)
One of the most significant events in my life happened around a game I hate – baseball!
I like the kind of activities that flow smoothly – like dance or even soccer.
And I hate waiting around, doing nothing.
So baseball!?! That game where you (or at least I) spend most of my time waiting around?
Punctuated by incredibly stressful running, stopping, sliding – waiting for the ball to come to earth and hoping it will hit my mitt, not the ground or my head.
Yuck! You could not design a game that I would like less.
So that makes what happened one summer when I was a kid all the more amazing.
The Baseball Miracle
One evening after supper, my cousins and Uncle Roy came across the yard to my grandmother’s house, where my family was staying.
They said everyone was going to the farmer’s field across the road to play ball.
Somehow it didn’t seem like an option to say “I hate baseball! I’m not going!” So I went too.
And I had an experience that has been an inspiration for rest of my life.
A Different Kind of Ball Game
My brother played in a T-ball league in Toronto that seemed to operate like my gym classes at school.
There were the kids who were good at the game we were playing, and they seemed to have lots of fun, and everyone cheered their accomplishments.
And then there were the kids like me – not naturally good at physical “stuff”, constantly anxious and wishing I was somewhere else. Hoping that – just for today – I wouldn’t screw up and get my team mad at me.
Uncle Roy’s game was totally different. It was customized to the needs and skill level of each player – so that it was both fun and challenging. And everyone felt that the other players cared about them and were glad they were there.
When it was little 3-year-old Bonnie’s turn to play, her dad or one of her brothers would help her hold the bat and swing. And, with the support of all the fielders, she would always make it to first base. And sometimes to other bases, if her interest in the game held.
But when it was my dad, or Uncle Roy, or my “big” cousin Billy who was at bat, everyone played their very best game. I remember Billy being the pitcher a lot, and the balls speeding hard across the plate. And the fielding was breath-takingly fast and furious. It was amazing to watch!
And things were somewhere in the middle for the rest of us. My first time or two at bat, I’d pretty much always make it to first base. But as my skill level grew, so did the challenge of the game.
But if I was having on “off” night, things would be arranged so that I’d get some hits and some on-base time. So it was still fun for me, and I felt that I belonged.
How This Inspired Me
This inspired me to want to create groups and organizations and cities and a world where:
- Everyone feels that they are welcome, cared about, and they belong.
- Everyone contributes
- In a way that is fun and satisfying for them, and
- And that is appreciated and valued by other people around them.
Because I believe that each person has something precious to contribute – something that only they can do.
And our only challenge is to help each person find their place. Knowing and trusting that it exists.
Because we only get crime and gangs and violence and pain when we don’t do this.
I know it’s possible to create a world where everyone feels that they belong, and everyone gets to contribute in ways that are fun & satisfying for them.
Because I got to play ball Uncle Roy’s way.
You can see & hear him tell his side of this story at the following link:
(8 minutes, with the first 40-50 seconds being advertising and introduction).