Sunday, March 14, 2010

Life's Race to Win.....What?

Today I was out in the yard playing ball with Taylor. He's 25. I'm 56 and we're outside in the neighbor's yard with a big red bat and white plastic ball. (What were ya'll doing, BTW? See?) Taylor can hit a lot better than I can pitch. It just swept over me: This is it. This is my life. It's Saturday and this is what we're doing and what we'll do again tomorrow. My mind was racing 90 to nothing about stuff I thought I needed to be doing, but not Taylor. For him, what we were doing was all that there was to be doing.
It is so weird to live with an "adult" person who does not capitulate to the pressures and whims of the outer world. For Taylor, none of the regular 'ole expectations and external measurements cause him to lose any sleep at night. I can't get him to buy into all of my anxiety about how tough things are. Sometimes I feel like I am split right down the middle of my body---right down the middle of my life. And, interestingly enough, Taylor's way of seeing the world is looking better and better.
For me, having grown up around well educated people, who cared about money, looks, belonging, fitting in, achieving, being successful, and "making something" of one's life---well, that's a lot of balls in the air at once, isn't it? But right next to me all day every day---right at my elbow is this precious little guy who does not give a rat's a** if you or I have a degree from Harvard or Podunk--or no degree at all. He does not care one wit if you weigh 400 pounds or 63 pounds. He would not know a BMW from a old clunker. Color doesn't matter, money doesn't matter, being a somebody does not matter. He will hold your hand and gently rub your face even if you are in the midst of a nasty divorce or are a homosexual who has had 12 abortions. Taylor just does not judge. He does not get tangled up with who or what has "value," and he does not indulge me when I do. It's really perplexing--and maddening. How can somebody not be caught up in this rat race? What is life about if you're not out there trying out-smart, out-spend, out-do, out-look all those other people? What if "the rules" just do not apply? And don't go acting like you don't know what the rules are. We all know them. We might hate them, but we still know them.
Here's my big fat spiritual question of the day: What if we're just supposed to be playing ball on Saturdays? Just for fun? I just don't know. Where does that leave us? Like no winners and no losers. All of us the same.
I am feeling the split again.

Here's my best story about all of this. In preparing for the Special Olympics several years ago, Taylor and his class would go to the track and practice running. They'd run relays; they'd get in shape. They would be encouraged and cheered and coached to "win" and do their best. When the big race day came--the big competition-- for which they'd all prepared for weeks, all of Taylor's team wore uniform tee-shirts. It was a real race---you know, The whistle blew. Runners were off! Off to win! Off to beat the others! Off to get those ribbons and prizes! Around the last bend, neck-in-neck the little fellows raced, remembering the coaching and coaxing from days before. Within yards of the finish line, one young competing racer tripped and tumbled to the ground. He had clearly lost his chance in the winner's circle. Taylor, looking back and catching a glimpse of his fallen competitor comrade, did not continue forward towards the finish line. Nope, without even a moment's hesitation, Taylor turned back around, helped his opponent up off the ground and finished the race arm-in-arm. Arms around one another. His fellow man, arm-in-arm. Both crossing the line at once.
What about those rules? Why am I even asking?