Baseball Cards and Fireworks

Suppose you own something of value like an antique bureau, silver tea service, vintage automobile, old coins or perhaps, as in my case, a baseball card collection. Would you consider selling or trading it for any reason? If so, what reason would tip the scales so that you would part with it?

I started collecting baseball cards during the 1960’s, initially as much for the gum as for the cards. I’m not alone in this, believe me. It was pretty good tasting gum, at least for the first three minutes, until the flavor evaporated.

Later, when I was more serious about the players and the teams, I’d go to the store with a friend and we’d each buy a pack or two, depending on what was left of our allowances for the week. We’d rush out of the store and rip open the package to see what players we’d gotten. You could tell by our shrieks if we’d scored a great card. If we both had, there would be endless bartering and possibly a trade.

We each had our own personal favorites and tried to get every card in the series. We also had our own personal baseball enemy cards. You might be able to guess, these were the guys who played against our favorite teams and beat us.

We had a special place for those cards. We’d find a way to clip them to the frame of our bikes with clothespins so that when the tires rotated the spokes would bend them in half. It made this awesome noise, which sounded like a machine gun. The best part though was in did a number on the faces of the enemy players.

I know, pretty ruthless, huh? What do you want, I was a kid.

It turns out that my collection was worth a bit of money, not what it would have been in its hay-day, but decent enough. I’d decided early on to set aside my all-time favorites which was everyone on the Yankees team and Roberto Clemente. They were NOT FOR SALE! All the rest, yes, they could go.

For me, I came to that decision because I felt trading my cards for a real-life experience would be worth the price.

Sometimes, I sit back and imagine myself at age 85 or 90. I’m sitting in a chair talking with a reporter, who’s asking me about my life. The reporter wants to know what gave my life value and meaning. My first words would be, my family and friends. I’d follow that with, my life experiences.

I use this image often, to decide my course of direction, so for me, a handsomely printed baseball card just can’t measure up to a real-life experience.

So, here’s what I did. I asked Gale, a dear friend of mine whether she thought her extremely knowledgeable father would help me find a buyer for my cards. She asked him and he said he would.

He and I had several wonderful chats and ultimately, he negotiated a fabulous deal and handed over the cash. He wouldn’t take a nickel for his part in the deal, but did accept a book about famous baseball stadiums, as ‘payment’.

You may be wondering where the fireworks part of this story comes in. Well, it’s right here.

I used the money to book a room in a four-star hotel in Boston for the weekend, so we could watch the fabulous fireworks display over the Charles River on the Fourth of July. It was gorgeous and a spectacular crowd pleaser. It had all of the ones I love the most; the fizzy kind, several multi-colored versions and, my favorites, the loud reverberating bang ones. The end of the show was fantastic and filled the sky with light and color and noise. I can still picture it if I close my eyes.

Was the trade worth it to me? Absolutely! I can’t remember even one of the faces on the baseball cards I sold, but I can clearly recall the glow on my wife’s face, as she watched the firework colors paint the Boston sky.

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Through The Eyes of Love

We so often see ourselves through others eyes, as if we are a reflection, rather than our own being.

We may spend much of our time carefully trying to fit into molds others create for us. And, we may try to avoid stepping over lines they’ve drawn. Ones that represent what they want or need or expect from us.

I believe that there are times it is necessary for someone to set reasonable limits. It’s more a question of when and how.

We come into this world essentially helpless and dependent on others for everything. As we grow up, we gain skills and confidence and resist doing everything others tell us. This can cause a great deal of friction and lead to conflicts and resentments.

It is so hard to navigate the constantly changing line between what is necessary in order to keep us safe and healthy and what is overburdensome control. It can be difficult for both the child and the adult to adapt to all the situations that present themselves.

This has certainly been the case in my life. And, to a degree, it probably still is.

But, I’ve come to suspect there is another way to live our lives. And I believe we are better served by being brave and bold and using out own ideas and images as guides for our actions, and to see life and the world through our own eyes.

Unless there is a question of competency, I believe everyone deserves the opportunity to make their own decisions. Of course, it is helpful and valuable to have resources to aid in setting our course in life. But, once we reach a certain age, we all want to have the ultimate control over our own decisions.

How does this happen so that we feel in charge and yet supported?

I suppose it is different for everyone, especially since there are so many unique situations. Part of what seems like the truth to me is that the shift that makes the difference is on the inside of a person.

Changing your perception from being the overseen to being the overseer can be challenging, but also, extremely rewarding. As nice as it is to have someone as your guide (whether parent, relative, friend, guardian) it is vital to assume your own leadership role for your life.

Shifting from being a reflection of what another wants, to being your own person and casting your own image into the world is a fantastic and wonderful process, even though a sometimes very challenging one.

On the BOOKS page of this website there is a listing of all of the books I’ve written and a few that are planned. One book, Little Buddha Book One, has an important observation I’d like to share about seeing through the eyes of love. The two main characters, Claire and Sam, are having a conversation and the subject comes up about how Claire finds peace in the world.

Here is what she says, “It’s simple. I start each day when I wake up by reminding myself who I am. I am a part of god. A divine spirit, complete and whole. I am not missing anything. My reality is that I am made of love. I remind myself that everything around me is also made of love and that the only difference between me and all that surrounds me is my perception or the way I choose to see the world. If I think or act or say something that is not from love, my perception will be that I am separate from the world. And then I will label things. They become “bad” things or “wrong” things. But if I remember that everything is a part of the one, then I can look at everything through the eyes of love. You see, the idea is simple. It is the true perceiving that is difficult.”

I find great meaning in Claire’s words and try to remind myself to always look at my life through the eyes of love.

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How Deep Does Pain Go

How deep does pain go?

The answer that comes to me is, as deep as we allow.

Please don’t stop reading yet.

Bear with me for a few minutes and hear me out.

I know there is a kind of pain that has an intensity far beyond anything we thought was imaginable. Whether it is physical, where the body is racked with enormous pain and limitations or emotional, where our heart is so broken it feels beyond repair. It could be mental or intellectual, where we can’t find answers to any of our dilemmas or spiritual, where we feel completely alone, distanced from any sense of love or caring.

There have been times when I’ve felt some of these brutal realities, not knowing whether things would ever get better. Certainly, for a while I could not see how it would be possible. There seemed to be no sunshine left. Maybe everyone has felt this way.

I don’t think you have to have lived into old age to know suffering. It seems to me to be sort of an ageless condition.

I’ve had many conversations with others about this. Every one of them ends in the same place, with one simple question…why?

Why is there so much pain and suffering?

No one I’ve spoken to feels they have the answer to this question. Sure, there are platitudes, but are they helpful? No one I know, including those who say them, seem to believe it.

So, the search for meaning goes on.

Once in a while someone tells me that pain and suffering is a punishment for the wrongs we’ve done. They often insert the word, ‘sin’ into the conversation. They tell me that (god) is so upset with our behavior that (he) has no choice but to condemn us and therefore, there we feel pain and endure suffering.

I don’t believe this. I never did, even as a child. You can not speak to me of a (god) who is everlasting love and always watches over me and cares for me and then add the ingredient of a (god) who sends me pain and suffering for being human.

Others I’ve talked with take a very direct approach to answering this question. They say, it is just a part of living on this earth and that it is a natural result of being here. This is also known as…’$#*% happens’.

Perhaps I’m unrealistic, but I think there’s more to it than that.

I want to go back to the statement I made at the beginning of this post. The answer that comes to me is, as deep as we allow. That’s how deep pain and suffering goes.

What I mean is this.

Imagine that you have a shovel in your hands. You aim it at the ground, step on the back and push your way into the earth. Once your shovel blade is full, you lift it up and set the dirt to the side. You now have a small hole in the ground. The hole is now how much pain there is in your life. It’s what you feel. The pain is relatively small, because the hole is small. You tell yourself you can deal with this.

But sometimes, the hole gets bigger and deeper and the amount of pain may exceed your ability to handle it. And sometimes the hole gets bigger still. You can’t imagine why, and you find it hard to see the bottom of the hole. The pain and suffering seem so deep.

I’ve lived through some deep holes. I think everyone has.

At some point I opened up inside and asked for help. I wanted to know what was at the bottom of the hole. I needed to know how deep it really was. So, I peered in and saw (god) at the bottom. And as I reached down, (god) reached up, until our hands met.

I realized that part of the pain and suffering was up to me. That I had something to do with how much I experienced. I was part of the equation. And I could ask for help and the pain and suffering would ease, if I allowed it to.

I know this is a hard answer to grasp. Do with it whatever feels right to you. I felt compelled to pass this along and I hope it helps someone.

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