Head Coach Edith Gallagher
G’s season so far has been a complete disaster.
Her team is not just losing; they are losing epically.
For example, they allowed 18 runs in one inning the other day—one inning.
It’s partly that she has a young team: eleven rookies.
It’s partly the calendar: doubleheaders back to back on consecutive days.
Her players are exhausted, injured, and sick.
Morale is low.
As for G, I expect her to walk in the door looking shell-shocked and distraught after every loss.
But she doesn’t. She looks tired, for sure, but she doesn’t seem that upset. If she complains, it’s about bad calls, not her team’s performance.
She’s oddly o.k.a.y.
G and I are a very odd couple in many ways. She’s more yang, whereas I play the yin role.
She’s up-and-at-‘em; I loll around and read.
And as far as our work in the world, I play an infinite game (yoga), and she plays the finite one (softball).
Her game is rule-driven, time-bound, and has a winner and a loser. My game only has one rule: to play the game for as long as possible.
Softball is finite, as are all sports and competitions.
Yoga, like education, business, and politics, is all about adapting, improving, and enduring.
But this year, G started trying to bring aspects of the infinite game into her very zero-sum sport.
What I mean by this is that she coached her team to focus on the process of playing and not just the outcome.
Lots of other coaches try to do this, too, of course, especially in the preseason.
They drill into their athletes the importance of staying in the moment, focusing on one pitch at a time, etc.
In other words, they coach them to try and find meaning and purpose in the game itself, and not just the score.
That way, even when they take a drubbing, they can feel they are gaining in mastery and will, in time, win.
It’s hard, though, especially when there’s a lighted scoreboard, announcers, and yelling fans at the fence reminding you that it’s your job to “Win this thing alright?? Yeah!”
It would take a Zen master to stay in the moment under these circumstances.
But G hopes that even if they can’t pull it off all the time, maybe once in a while, her players can remember just to take a breath and be present.
I went to her first home game the other day.
G called a timeout and went to the mound to talk to her struggling pitcher, who was red-faced and agitated.
I don’t know what was said, but when G walked away, the pitcher and catcher were relaxed and laughing.
The next few pitches hit their target.
When I asked G later what kind of voodoo she had worked out there, she said,
“I told her to take a few breaths and look at the sky.”
“Isn’t it a nice day? I said.
“Yeah,” she said.
“Just throw one pitch, okay? That’s it. Just one. Can you do that? Good.”
G brought her pitcher back to the moment. She removed the rules, the clock, the fans, and the outcome.
She coached her pitcher to try and play an infinite game inside the finite one. To focus on the process, not the outcome.
Which, of course, is the most complex ninja trick of all.
Life is an infinite game whose only goal is to keep the game going. But inside the infinite game of life, there are cut-throat, winner-take-all, status, and mind games. These games are designed to vanquish us, to make us lose. And if we play any of them for a paycheck or to satisfy some unquenchable emotional need, we are always on defense, strategizing, and watching the scoreboard.
In these finite games, we live red-faced, agitated, and stressed. We feel that this game and our lives are getting away from us. We feel ourselves falling farther behind our peers and our potential with each successive inning.
But what if we called a timeout? Gave ourselves time to catch our breath? Looked at the sky? Acknowledged the day?
And then just committed to this one next pitch?
If we could pull that off, we’d have a chance of transcending the finite game and getting our infinite life back.
Even for just a moment.
And that, of course, would be the ultimate win.
6 thoughts on “Playing The Infinite Game Of Softball”
Darling friend, I LOVE what you wrote and how you wrote it. I love G. I love you. I am totally grooving on life right now. Playing the infinite game inside my head. G is an amazing human being. And so are you. Lucky me: I get to be friends with you both. 💜
Thank you dear Zee!
div>I love getting this. It feel it keeps me kinda connected to you. My best to you and G.
MickiSent from my iPad
Thanks, Micki! Let’s hear it for staying connected! Love, Kath
I value all your posts. This one is insightful supportive,and one that touched me. I need constant reminders to stay in the moment. Thank you
Thanks, Linda! Don’e we all!