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Day 30: Playing with the Boys

“Games lubricate the body and the mind.” -Benjamin Franklin

I am the mother of four children, two girls and two boys. My sons have taught me much about the importance of the game over the years. Deprived of video game technology, they have always been players of one sport or another. The word “ball” was one of the first uttered in our home and the fascination with the game has filled countless hours as they have grown up. I have spent many a weekend on cold rainy fields, chilly ice rinks, sweaty gymnasiums and silent tennis courts. This is what we do for recreation.

It can be kind of a weird way to spend leisure time because some people take their kids’ sports extremely seriously. My boys are serious enough. Their games and matches are the culmination of hours of practicing and lessons. Sometimes all this work gives them the access to “the zone” as they call it. Their timing is perfect, their shots on the money, they are totally present in the moment. This is the win regardless of the outcome of the game.

Finding that place is harder than you would think. The struggle to quiet the mind and feel confident in their body happens before most every competition. The games where they beat themselves with their own performance anxiety make for the hardest rides home.

They don’t just lose their love of the game, but in some bigger way they feel like they lost themselves. The work of recovery is an inside job and I marvel at their willingness to try again.

The recovery happens with the beginner’s mind and remembering the love of the game. Coming back to what drives you to play is bigger than any record of wins and losses. Many times the season ‘s rankings are no reflection of what has actually been won or lost. I marvel at watching these magical moments where the fast paced action in front of me is clearly a meditation for them on how much they love to play. It is how the game transforms us.