Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The American Spirit

(Written Tuesday morning, on the way to the All Star Game.)


The last time I felt this down, this overwhelmed, this burdened by events, the President hugged me and urged me to look for our better angels.  When I cried that I couldn't imagine how anyone could be so angry, could perpetrate such a horror, Mr. Obama encouraged me to turn my back on that fury and rage and hate and to look for the America which Christina saw.  

Then he went to McKale Center and said the same thing to the rest of the world.

I began to realize that I was at the center of something really big.  The American spirit was center stage.  Who we are, how we cope, what our actions say about us ... the events of January 8th brought all of that into focus.  

I don't have a need to consider the shooter.  He is who he is and what will be will be.  Vengeance gets me no place, that I know.  It can't be pleasant to be him right now.  I don't wish anyone ill, even he who should be slapped.  I just want to be kept safe from further harm, and that seems to be happening.  There must be punishment and restitution and judgment will be passed, but none of that will help me to recover.  None of that will bring CT back to join her parents at the All Star Game tonight.  All of that is necessary but irrelevant.  My life goes on, regardless.

But my life goes on in a truncated fashion.  I can't really trim the lantana which is overgrowing the pool patio; bending hurts and I'm making mistakes.  My neighbors are walking the subdivision with their dog and, though I am invited, I can't join them; I don't think I have the endurance.  I'd like to be in Ithaca today, learning about Zionism and sleeping in the dorms for a week while I attend Cornell Adult University, but, once again, the need to cover long distances on foot precluded my attendance.  Yet all these things exist in my world - the flowers and the friends and the learning - and, though I might not be able to enjoy them the way I'd like to right now, they are there, waiting for me when I am ready.

But sometimes it's hard to stay happy.  Sometimes an anniversary will spark an internal discussion and the world begins to look dark and gloomy.  Sometimes I feel like bad things happen all the time and no one seems to care.  

And then I get a great email from Bud Selig and Major League Baseball and I feel good about America all over again.  Look forward, celebrate your strength and resilience - these are American qualities which stand me in good stead as I move along.  

I had that all in mind on Sunday morning as TBG and I plopped down on Douglas and watched the Women's World Cup match.... another boost for the American spirit.

As the male talking heads on the sports channels agreed, it was a game worth watching.  Period. Paragraph.  It didn't matter that the players were female or that the game was soccer.  It was great sports.  Team USA never gave up.  No matter how much the referees screwed them, no matter how far down nor how late in the game, they never lost their cool  Ever.  They tied the score in the 122nd minute of a 124 minute game.  That is playing til the final whistle blows.  

To me, it was the American spirit writ large. Big Cuter may call it jingoistic nationalism as he writes USA USA USA on his Facebook page, but I prefer Pia Sundhage's take on it.  She is the Swedish born coach of the US team.  Interviewed after her team won the game, she called her players' performance the best of what it means to be an American.

As we draw down our troops abroad, as our embassies are attacked and our government inches closer and closer to default, it's nice to have something to admire.  Sure, there will be pitching and certainly there was passing but in amongst the outstanding athleticism and the patriotic whooping and hollering on these very big stages, there is a larger lesson, I think.

Perhaps we should all find our gloves and our bats and our balls.  Perhaps we should all head out to the playground or the ball field or the backyard or the quiet summer street.  Perhaps, in playing America's pasttime we can rediscover the fact that we are all in this together.  Perhaps we can heal ourselves and one another by looking to that which we share instead of focusing on that which divides us.

All I know is that I am loving the band aid that MLB put on my aching heart.  It's going to be great to be a part of the All-Star Game tonight.... even if all I do is wave.  I will be waving to all of you, to Christina-Taylor and Gabe and Dory and Judge Roll and Gabby, and to everyone who has sent me a prayer or a wish for recovery.  This is who we are.  This is what we do.

6 comments:

  1. All I can really say is God Bless you and there are a lot of us pulling for you and everyone involved in this terrible tragedy.

    I don't think anyone could have spoken about the American spirit better then you just did here. Thank you for that, I for one needed the reminder!

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  2. Yes, God Bless you! I am glad that you know that vengeance won't help you and certainly doesn't hurt him.

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  3. I think of my father as I read this post...my father and all the G.I.'s of WWII who found a way to play their games no matter where they were, any time they had a moment of safety and freedom. Baseball got them through and baseball was here waiting for them when they got home. Baseball WAS home.

    Now, if only the players, coaches, owners, and fans would treat the games with the respect they deserve, perhaps those games could help bring us together again.

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  4. AB, I truly tried to read this at the office, but found myself crying and had to stop. I've been able to fully read it here at home and all I can say is bravo! Nothing says America like baseball and it embodies the American spirit. I watched Daniel throw out the first pitch. It was a great game to watch and I'm not even into baseball. Football is my game, but watching last night made me proud. Proud of all of you that went there to celebrate life and the American spirit.

    Keep that spirit in you too.


    Megan xxx

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  5. Ashleigh,

    Your account of your journey towards recovery and coming to terms with this awful tragedy is truly inspirational! I hope someday you will pull together these reflections into a book.

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