Tuesday, May 5, 2015

The Glory of the Sound

Public domain, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Softball#/media/File:Softball_batter_vh.jpg

Greetings All:

I have been looking for a subject to write on that avoids the negativity that envelops our world.  I have endeavored to write about subjects that are positive, that speak to, as Lincoln coined, "The better angels of our nature."

Yet there have been a bunch of stuff getting in the way.  Baltimore burning, a police officer murdered in New York City, the heartbreaking carnage of the Nepal earthquake, all give reasons to be grim.  I recall the words of Don Mclean of "American Pie" fame:

"I met a girl who sang the blues.
And I asked her for some happy news.
But she just smiled and turned away."

Yes, it is true, happy news can be hard to find.  But find some I did.  And ladies and gentlemen, it's my pleasure to share it with you now.

My happy news comes in the form of softball.  To be precise, my youngest daughter's softball team.  She and her fellow second-graders have taken to the field for another season of softball.  Thanks to Coach Mike and the other volunteers, the kids are in very good hands.

Dawn and I hung out for the first practice and it was sheer joy to watch them play.  Well, "play" might be a bit of a stretch, as they are just learning the game.  The focus on teaching the fundamentals and having fun.  In this league, everyone get to hit (off a tee if necessary) and run the bases.  There are no outs, every gets a turn.  Score is not kept.

I am not one of those parents who renounces competition and winners and losers.  I believe kids need to learn about what it takes to be successful.  However, there is a time for that and this is not it.  Instead, this is a time for having fun, for laughing, for being part of team and doing your best and getting better, if only a little bit, every time you pick up a glove or swing a bat.

Watching the kids hit, for me, the most enjoyable part.  The coaches are patient and give both correction and praise.  Not every swing is a hit, yet when it is, a thing of beauty unfolds.  You see the mixture of wonder, surprise and joy on the hitter's face when the bat makes contact with the ball and it goes flying.  How far it goes?  Who cares.  Contact was made and that's a hit my friends.

Simply put, it is the glory of the sound.  The sound of ball bouncing off of a bat, of the joy of the moment, of kids running and throwing and catching (well, not so much that part, but they're getting there).  It's seeing a coach shout encouragement and seeing them mentally record the progress made.  Small, sure, but measurable.  Just get a little bit better and still have fun in the process.  What more could you ask for?

As I'm on the subject of sounds, I'll leave you with a poem of one of my favorite poets, William Butler Yeats.

The Lake Isle of Innisfree

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made;
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet’s wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart’s core. 

Well, Yeats has his lake and I have softball to watch, both with
sounds to cherish and recall.  I am sure Yeats had a grand time at
his lake (if he only traveled there in his mind).  As for me, my time
watching the kids play softball is my grand time.  And I am lucky
beyond words to get to experience it.

I hope you have your own moments this summer full of sounds that
bring you the same feelings.  If you're having trouble hearing them,
then might I suggest unplugging for a bit and go outside and listen 
for themI hope you can hear them.  You deserve it.  We all do.

Be well my friends,

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