Zen and the Art of Fly Ball Catching

Life has a funny way of timing things.  Start a new project, have chaos enter your life for a while and delay the start.  I will be finishing up moving today.  It has been exhausting and slightly drama filled but it will be all over soon.  It did however, cause a situation that seems to fit in with my whole goal here.

For my birthday a couple years ago my dad gave me the only foul ball he’s ever caught at a baseball game.  It was in a Tupperware with the tickets from the game.  They had all the information about the event on them.  I cried when he gave it to me because I knew what a big thing it was for him to do.  I came back to my old place one day to find all my things piled very haphazardly in the living room.  This annoyed me to say the least.  Anyway the upshot is that I can’t find the Tupperware with the baseball.

I got very upset at first.  Very upset.  I got to thinking this morning about the baseball.  What was inherent in the baseball that makes losing it so devastating?  I didn’t have it only display.  It’s not exactly aesthetically pleasing.  It’s the story behind the object that gives it meaning.  Well the object being gone doesn’t make the moment I got it any less important.  It doesn’t take the meaning away from the gesture.  Do I really need a physical reminder of what happened?  If I do, how can I say it’s that important to me?

This got me thinking about the notion that unhappiness in life springs from desire.  It also brought to mind the platitude that everyone seems to cling to at times in their life, “You can’t take it with you”.  So what is important in life?  The moments or the things?  What is important in spirituality the letter of the teachings, the church, or the spirit of the teachings?  Is there a middle ground?  This is clearly something I plan on revisiting a few times.

I’m also downsizing like crazy.  Going from a 2 bedroom to a small studio is forcing me to pare down my possessions to what really matters to me.  What is essential and what I need to stay myself.  This fits in really well with what I am doing spiritually too.  Trying to figure out what is most important to me.  What draws me and what speaks to me?   At any rate, less slacking soon!


8 responses to “Zen and the Art of Fly Ball Catching

  1. Chris

    I think thats an interesting idea of the experience meaning more than the memento. I came by the concept inherantly as a kid and never took pictures of any of my travels. The value of the mementos ends up being for other people.

    You probably wouldnt have cried if, for your birthday, your dad told you a story about catching a ball.

    • Good point about the initial importance of the object. I wonder if that is hypocritical? Would you have cried? At what point does it truly become about the gesture and not the object? I’d love to hear your view on that.

      • Chris

        I donno why I dont get updates on this thing, i’m supposedly subscribed.

        I wouldnt have cried, but he wouldnt have given me a baseball cuz he would know I wouldnt cry. I donno about when it becomes one or the other, we sure know when it matters and when it doesnt though, dont we?

      • You’re the only one with a supposed overall blog subscription. Maybe that only alerts you when there are new posts, not comments.

        Anyhow.. YES. its pretty darned obvious when it matters. Well I know when it matters, you know when it matters. Sometimes I wonder if that is a universal trait.

  2. Rebecca Beccaboo

    Dang, girl! You sound like a grown up! I am impressed with your ability to let go of your attachment and disappointment about the baseball! That shows amazing sense of what is important and lovely grace.

    I never knew that story!

    You know, I have been trying to pare down and figure out what things are important to me, too. I feel like moving to CA has forced me to grow up and change some, and I am trying to figure out who I am now. It is a good, but sometimes painful exercise! Going through the stuff that my Grandpa had, after he died, was a good experience, too. It made me think about what I want to leave behind. Luckily, he did a great job paring down himself towards the end. The stuff that I really loved to see were his photo albums! Growing up is not what I thought it would be like!

    • The letting go is a struggle. I’m still a lil miffed about the situation. Just trying to muddle through and improve as a person. 🙂

      Glad you had a good example of how to leave a legacy by Otis. Otis was rad from what I remember.

      True that about growing up. I glad we have eachother to grow up with though, and refuse to grow up with as the case may be. 🙂

  3. Hunter

    I want to be careful in saying this because I don’t want to rub salt in a wound, specifically that you cannot find the baseball. But I think this idea is at the heart of a lot of what I have been thinking about regarding spirituality. I have not read the specific Gnostic writings that you are reading, although I am somewhat familiar with the concepts involved, a big concept being that what is spirit is good and what is physical is bad, or at the least, unimportant. This is rejected as heretical in early Christianity, but in many ways Western Christianity completely buys this dualism, especially through the writings of Augustine. Some people also posit that Paul was a dualist in a lot his writing, not a spirit good physical bad kind of dualism, but of a physical good spirit better kind of dualism. I think that a lot of the major problems in Christianity have come about through a devaluing of the physical. People separate their spirituality from its physical reality and we get all sorts of problems like a lack of care for poor, starving and abused people because the physical is seen as less important that the spiritual. Or we get the crusades where the physical reality of war and killing is directly opposed to the spiritual life ethic of enemy love. Also, the center of Christian Spirituality hinges on the resurrection of Jesus with an emphasis that the return is not in spirit alone, but also involves a real physical body.

    So, there are these historical problems in Christianity when spirituality and physicality are sundered. Currently there is more and more research in psychology regarding the connection of body to emotion, and whole fields of therapy based on somatic principles. The body and spirit are tied together and there is serious trouble when we try to separate them, or treat one without considering the other. In the case of the fly ball isn’t the beauty of the act tied to the sacrifice of giving a real physical object? It may be the thought that counts, but the thought cannot be separated from the physical object.

    Just some thoughts. Hope you are well.

  4. Hunter,
    That is a really fascinating counter-point to the physicality of the ball argument. I think in this case, for my own protection I am more prone to dismissing the physical object for the sake of the moment.

    I did want to point that what I have thus far read of Gnosticism, it isnt really a rejection of the physical for the spiritual. At least what I have seen so far its more a focus on the process of knowledge. There is a rejection of spirituality being readily available for those that arent willing to work for it. Not entirely sure how I feel about that, but your views on the body and spirit being tied are really interested. If you’d like, I would love for you to write a post on here that goes over the research and the connections between the two. If you’re interested, I’ll give you posting access so we can discuss with some more information available for a solid discussion.

    I really appreciate your thoughtful comments here. This is exactly what I was hoping would happen. I’m almost completed moved in to the new place, so I should have the first part of my distillation of the Gnosticism book wherein I discuss the history/general introduction. I’m specifically looking forward to your thoughts.

    As an aside, do you know of any interfaith seminaries that are worthwhile? I have a friend who practices Islam but also teaches Sunday School for a church that was interested in an inter-faith seminary. I’ve been considering it as well.

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