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Playing to win a game we all know we will lose: It’s the game that makes winners of us

I just love to compete! folks say to me, pretty much never.

I’m not the competitive type, they say, pretty much always.

And then they cut each other off in conversation. One-up each other in accomplishments. Go off about something on Facebook. Cannot believe that offending patron! Swerve around that maniac who is texting while driving. While on the way to run this place the way it should be run. Every day. Even on Sundays.

Not competitive, though. We’re above this. Don’t dirty my hands with that sort of thing. It will all work out in the end, they say. Always does, right? Let’s not keep score. That way, everyone wins. Everyone goes home happy.

Nope. Not the competitive type.

Watch out for these folks. Don’t let ’em fool you. Because last time I checked we were all doing the same thing: playing to win at a game none of us can avoid losing. 

What these people who ‘don’t like to compete’ are really saying is that they don’t like to keep score. They don’t want to be measured, because measuring shows where we stand. It tells how we’re doing, how far we’ve come, and which direction we’re moving.

It shows us who is ahead which is, for now, who is winning.

Oh, but quantifying this makes it so cold and unforgiving, they say. Where is your compassion? your kindness? your empathy? Where is your humanity, woman?

***

Daniel Murphy just loves to compete.

As he strides to the plate we know his current batting average, his on-base percentage, his tally of homeruns, RBIs, and extra base hits. We know how well he does with runners in scoring position, how many times he’s walked, been hit by a pitch and scored. We know how many times he has faced this particular pitcher, how he’s fared, and therefore, how this particular match-up is likely to go.

We love measuring. we love predicting. we love evaluating the odds to see what the chances are. These days we know everything because we measure it. everything, that is, except what will happen this time.

Daniel_Murphy_on_March_18,_2016_(2)The only one paying no attention is Daniel Murphy. He’s just looking for a hit.

He’s not thinking about the hours of preparation that brought him to this moment. He’s not worrying about the last time he faced this pitcher. He’s even immune to the boo’s from the crowd (which, may I say NY, is poor form?) which actually signify how well he’s done against his former team.

No. Murphy has one thing on his mind: this pitch. And with all of the wizardry he can muster and all of the artistry at his command, he is focused on getting his bat on this ball and putting it somewhere where no one can catch it. He’s looking to get on base. And then to get to the next base and the next and then finally home.

Daniel’s serious about this game. He plays to win it. And he seems to be having the time of his life!Daniel Murphy 1 - USA Today

Fast balls, curve balls, splitters, cutters and change-ups. Bring ’em high and tight or low and outside. Throw ’em all. The best in the game do, as the best in the game will. That’s what he knows will make him the best in the game. That’s the fun of it.

Who’d want to play a game where there was no winner? We’re made to measure.

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Not Your Usual Bouncer

Ready…go!

Each set off
at his own pace
with her own rhythm
in their own style.

tennis-balls-bouncing
Bounce.. bounce…. bounce. bounce…boun..ce bounceee.. bou..bbounce

Tennis balls,
in their joy and merriment,
leaping and playing,
of their own accord.

Until
bounce..bounce.bounce..bounce..bounce.bounce..bounce.
Became
bounce.bounce.bounce.bounce.

They were finished, then.
Fallen in,
Rank and file,
Orderly. Procession.

Oh, the sound.
Calling me,
To sameness, calm,
quiet, appeasement, rhythm.

So easy to slip in,
under the waves,
along for the ride,
go with the flow.

There was another sound.
Quiet, but clear.
Of opportunity beckoning,
between the bouncing,
between the bouncing.

Growing louder,
more insistent.
Am I the only one who hears it?

Close ranks! Tighten up!
and…Bbbbbbbbounce.
Rapid fire. Precision.
Poise. Focus.

Deliberately different.
Not disruptive,
Distinct.

It was a competition, after all.
There was a Prize.

Putting Fun in it’s Place

sport ballsOkay, competitors, here are the rules: the one who has the most fun wins. Go!

Children do it naturally. Teens do it clandestinely. Adults do it grudgingly or not at all. How have we lost our way? Somehow, in the important-ness of following the rules, doing it right, getting good grades and earning approval, the play has slipped away. Its absence is wreaking havoc with my joy!

What if things go wrong? What if it doesn’t work out? What if I don’t measure up or I’m not what they want? What if I miss my chance? Oh. My. Goodness. Someone send in the Play Police! Somehow, the gremlins have stolen the fun.

For crying out loud, where has the anticipation gone? You know, the excited feeling in the pit of your stomach that has you smiling for no good reason. The delight that whatever happens, it’s gonna be fun. The impishness that has you looking for the perfect opportunity to shake things up and create a little havoc.

What if playfulness was the #1 item on the agenda? The only non-negotiable in your meeting because it, you knew, was the saving grace for everything else that came down the pike. But you didn’t do it on purpose because that’s the nature of fun; it just breaks out – and illuminates and lifts everything and everyone in the room.

What if God’s measuring stick was joy? He/she who has the most fun wins…

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

Children do it naturally, and along the way all that is meant to be, is.

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