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?
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.