On Spring Training

As a counselor, I believe one of my most important tasks is to help people find hope. Hope in themselves and their inner resources or hope that something positive outside them such as a Higher Power. These days it seems to be a precious commodity.

For some time, baseball has been a metaphor for me for all kinds of life events. Its artistry inspires my creativity. Its moments of poetry leave me wondrous. Moments of deep failure lead to reflection on how I deal with my own failures. I can even reflect on the Biblical theme of scapegoats (Remember Bill Buckner? Steve Bartman?) And of course, as George Carlin reminds us, we all have a desire to be safe at home.

Baseball gives me a metaphor for hope for hope springs eternal for all baseball fans when spring training arrives. We all start the new season with hope for our team, even if our team came out on top the previous year. We especially welcome the new season with hope when our team came oh so close. And yes those of us who have rooted for teams that finished in last place yet still believe. Spring training is a time of hope.

Spring training represents a new start. It represents a time to assess what wounds have healed. It may be a time to assess whether it’s time to move into a new phase of my life. As a poet once said, there may be nothing more poignant than an aging ball player playing past his time, unable to let go of one more chance at glory.

There is success in spring training but also much failure. Recall that more players go back to the minor leagues than make the team. Some never make it back. Spring training, after all, is a place of dreams. Players dream of making the team, of having a good year, of winning the World Series. Hope sustains our dreams.

Yes, baseball success is a trivial issue in comparison with hoping for the cure to an illness or relief from poverty or even finding a job. I approached baseball originally because it was an unimportant way to help me rediscover enthusiasm. The same may be true of hope.

So as spring training gets under way, whether you are a baseball fan or not, take the time to reflect on where you are as far as hope is concerned, recalling that perhaps more than anything else hope is life-affirming. Come on! Play ball!

In that spirit, enjoy John Fogarty’s “Center Field”

REFLECTION: 1. How is your level of hope? For what are you hoping?



About richp45198

I am a clinical psychologist and have an abiding interest in matters spiritual.
This entry was posted in psychology, spirituality and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to On Spring Training

  1. Mary Minsloff says:

    Hi, The timing on this article is amazing; I had been reflecting on what Hope is in my life and for me. I consider myself a happy person although I know I have had what would be described as clinical depression. I may have told you on our last visit the psychiatrist I am seeing has prescribed medication which is usually used when treating BiPolar disorder. The meds work, regardless of the diagnosis; these meds have been very helpful in treating my symptoms and that is all I want or need. On TV today Patti Davis (Ronald Reagan’s daughter) spoke about her tumultuous relationship with her mother. I was not focusing on the interview but when Patti made a remark about getting past all of that it made me think. Patti said to focus on the times however short or infrequent if only once; when you had a warm , good feeling with the person…her mother…my mother… I had always been hopeful that somehow something was going to change the dynamics of the relationship I have w/ my mother. For example when my father died, I thought there was no reason for her to b jealous of my relationship with him so things could change. There have been many moments in my life over the years when I sincerely hoped and truly believed things could change. My mothers angry behavior resulted in disappointment which led to anger on my part . Anger has been the reaction I usually have when someone hurts me, this hasn’t served me well and it is a behavior I work have worked on and continue to work on.. The words Patti Davis said touched me , I heard her words and could see the value and truth in what she said. I can’t say I have had many moments or times I can recall of my mother’s kindness. My father for all his faults …was kind and caring as a parent. I’m not forgetting the reality of my father…but dad was kind, and I felt loved by dad which made all the difference in the world when I was growing up. I do recall one time in elementary school the teacher asked for volunteers to bring treats for a party or something. I recall my mother not bringing “treats” on other occasions and I remember wanting my mother to be “one of those mom’s”. So, I held up my hand and volunteered my mother to make popcorn balls. Where I came up with popcorn balls I have no idea. I do know my mother’s attempts at baking were well know to me and I recognized at a very young age…my mother couldn’t bake. I went home and at some point told my mother and I recall the look of surprise . As unbelievable as it seems to me now; my mother made those popcorn balls and go them to school. That is a moment of kindness and love that I remember and I will focus on. I will focus on that whenever memories of my mothers hate filled words come to mind…as my mother cont.’s to yell and say cruel things to me. I do have that memory and that moment which I will bring to my mind as often as needed and the other memories will be set aside and allowed to become a vague memory and that vague memory of my mother’s kindness will be remembered and given importance and significance. So my hope is no longer that things will change or whatever I was hoping or “dreaming ” of. My hope is for Peace in my heart , knowing the happiness in the life I have and appreciating the love I have in my life. Hope is accepting my relationship with my mother for what it is, accepting what it is and not expecting or hoping for it to change . In that way I have peace. I won’t go back and read this because I will the lose the courage to send this to you. FYI I do call my mother, about every 3-4 months per Jimmy’s request . Jim asks for little from people so I can and will do this for him.

    Hope you are well and I hope you know what a kind, caring and good man you are. My dad thought the world of you and I know his admiration for you is justified.

    Thank you,

    Linda Bencomo (Mary Minsloff)

    Sent from my iPad



  2. Susan Bass says:

    My father played in the National Negro Baseball League when he was young and before he had been wounded by war and by deep disappointment. Dr. Patterson used baseball to emotionally connect to a resistant and non-psychologically-minded elder man. I will be forever grateful for the fact that Dr. Patterson used baseball as a healing force. I am grateful also for the example of using indirect and non-threatening interviewing to approach deeper issues.


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