Here we are...

Just off the Port Bow—a place of uncertainty, adventure, and insight. Thank you for your ears, eyes and hearts. I hope to bring compassion, grace and beauty to your day.

Inside the mind of a kid

This past weekend we were on grandparent duty. Three kids, aged seven, three and nearly two. Four days, ten meals, three bath and bed times, a few loads of laundry and dishes, countless books, and, for the three year old boy, a lot of baseball outside.

This is a child who has been to Fenway Park, puts books about baseball at the top of his reading list EVERY time and who wears baseball themed clothing on a regular basis. He is not yet to that age where he knows the names of players or their stats, nor even to the place where he much cares about, or knows the difference between, the Red Sox and the Yankees. He simply loves baseball.

When he goes outside to play it is with a very fixed image in his mind, an image embodied by his choice of equipment. He may be a pitcher, a batter, a catcher or a fielder. Each role has a slightly different persona to accompany the equipment array. He knows that the catcher will have his cap on backward, the batter will hold the bat (not the glove) and that the fielder and pitcher have distinctive places to stand, as well as distinctive stances, on the ball field.

He is three.

There is relativity galore here. The location of home plate, the pitcher's mound and any of the bases constantly changes. Better put, the relative locations do not matter at all—have no bearing on what is going on inside his mind. Wherever he stands and squares off is the magical spot. He has ginned up Fenway Park and is there.

I need to add here the movement from the "dugout", which is wherever he was standing, to the "plate" or "mound". He throws his chest out, lifts his fists, cocks his elbows and lopes with carefully measured authority to his new position. The viewer is meant to note every subtlety of strength, courage, purpose and vigor. World Series games won. Home runs scored. Miraculous diving catches displayed.

When he is batting one gets the full drama. He struts to the plate, stares into the stands and basks in the adulation, gives me, the pitcher, only the slightest notice, and waits confidently for the glory of the struck ball.

I throw a soft rubber ball in his direction. He had wanted his real baseball to be part of the game; the one that his dog had half chewed up. Somehow I had convinced him that getting hit in the face by the hard ball was not worth the glory of heightened authentication.

He swings the oversized purple bat and hits the incoming ball. It doesn't really matter how far or in which direction the thing caroms off his bat. I tell him to run around the bases, which he does.

There are no fixed bases and therefore no fixed route to run. He essentially runs in a circle, all knees elbows and smile. I fetch the ball, give chase and invariably just miss tagging him out.

Home Run!


Until he decides that he wants to be the catcher, or pitcher or fielder. Did I mention that between every pitch he takes his baseball cap off and puts it back on about five times? If the cap ends up sideways that might well be the signal to play catcher. We also made up a new position, "Fatcher" when the cap remains sideways, neither returning to the front nor to the rear of his head.

There is more, but this is enough for me to make my point. The little boy's fantasy world will someday be his real world, be it in baseball or banking. And there will be elements of unreality and ginned up joy in his grown up world. Hopefully not too much, but he will carry some of that with him into whatever vocation or avocation he pursues. (Isn't the grown up version of this to "visualize" whatever you are getting ready to do?)

I want to be like my father—throw a baseball the way he did, walk the way he did, carry myself in public the way he did.

I remember spending hours in the branches of the apple tree at the end of our driveway. I would climb up and sit there quietly observing the world beneath and around me. It just struck me today that my ventures into the world of mindful meditation are the logical extension of that childhood meditative pose in a tree top.

I remember, not too many years ago, visualizing the barn I would build, working the fantasy of it all into reality. The reality may not be perfect, nothing is—but as far as I am concerned, it is a Home Run.

Thursday Images

In and Around - The Williams College campus on a Spring Day