in the stillness of a soft moonlit field beyond the wind whispers true ~ Micho
In 2008, a remarkable event that drew national attention happened in a college softball game in Ellensburg, Washington. It is a story about a few young women finding greater truth within themselves than perhaps they knew existed. It is also about what truly matters.
Sara, a smallish senior on the Western Oregon team, hit what looked like a threerun home run against Central Washington. Never in her twenty-one years had she hit a ball over the fence, so it was understandable that as she ran toward first base she got caught up in watching the flight of the ball. Awestruck by what she was seeing, she missed touching first base. Alerted by the screams of her teammates, she turned quickly back to step on the base, but as she did she twisted her right knee sending her toppling to the ground as she touched the base. Her coach made sure no teammates touched Sara because the rules stated that if they did, she would not have been allowed to continue around the bases.
The umpires huddled and ruled that if Sara could not make it around the bases, two runs would score but she would only be credited with a single. Then the big first baseman for Central Washington approached the umpires with a stunning suggestion. She asked if it would be okay if she and her teammates carried Sara around the bases so she could touch each one. The umpires consulted and said it would be legal. So two strong Central Washington players lifted Sara and carried her to second base, and gently lowered her so she could touch the base. Then through tears and laughter, the three of them continued their extraordinary procession to third base, and then home plate. Everyone in attendance stood and cheered, many with tears in their eyes, for they knew they were witnessing something special; something they would remember for a very long time.
As she was taken to the hospital for surgery to repair a torn ligament, Sara’s college softball career came to an end with an unimpressive .153 batting average, and just one home run––one extraordinary home run.
It has been said that great baseball players don’t make great managers. To the exceptionally talented player so much just comes naturally, and he usually functions best by going out and allowing his gifts to flow freely. The lesser player has to be constantly working, studying, and practicing just to retain a spot on the team. He has to learn the game inside and out, physically, mentally, and emotionally to enhance whatever natural talent he may have. Still, this often results in only a brief playing career of little note. However, the effort put forth can lead to greater insights into the finer points of the game, and that creates the potential for a first-rate manager.
I was raised in an environment where truth was not valued. Falsifying, exaggeration, and aggrandizement were the norm and thus what I learned. Throughout my childhood I would hear my father saying things that simply weren’t true. I hardly noticed after a while because so often they were stories about the most inane things, like how we went to the beach yesterday, which we had not, or how he had landed a certain job, which he had not. Selfaggrandizement was a practice witnessed and well learned by the male members of our family and I was no exception.
With this background, I started out, in a manner of speaking, without much talent or insight when it came to truthfulness. I was a minor-leaguer with a lot of learning, and unlearning to do if I was ever to breathe the rarified air of the major leagues of dignity, virtue, and honor. Uprooting pretense so that truthfulness can emerge is serious business requiring mindfulness and determination. I have had to practice truthfulness diligently, and it has not always been easy –– habit energy, fear, and ignorance are powerful forces. Consequently, I’ve always needed to be mindful of my speech; mindful because I could at any time fall back into what I had learned in my earliest years, which for me is no longer acceptable. In that light I feel well equipped to address the subject of truthfulness.
Jesus said, “The truth will set you free.” My own experience has been that while the truth may set you free, it can come at a hefty price. For the truth to set us free, we must be willing to shed the layers of subtle, protective self-deception we have created so as not to face our fears, insecurities, and doubts. Breaking free in this way––letting go of our falseness and embracing our true self –– is one of the most challenging and gratifying of human experiences. We learn that we are each truly amazing creatures. As one Zen master put it, “We are all perfect, and we need a little work.”
From the book Pocket Peace: Effective Practices for Enlightened Living by Allan Lokos (www.pocketpeace.com). Copyright © 2010 by Allan Lokos. Reprinted by arrangement with Tarcher Books, an imprint of Penguin Group USA, Inc.
Allan Lokos is the cofounder and director of the Interfaith Spiritual Community and the founder and guiding teacher of the Community Meditation Center in NYC. A former Broadway singer, Lokos is a regular contributor to Tricycle magazine.