Life is filled with contrast. Like a black and white photo, dark shadows sometimes block the light. The result is a complex image with depth and dimension. Similarly, joy and sorrow coexist in our daily lives. But the suffering can also deepen our perspective for happy, uplifting times.
A recent example is this week’s World Series. The Astros beat the Dodgers, and the win infused Houston with invigorated energy. I was thinking about this and reflecting on “Houston, Harvey, and Heroes,” which is the blog I posted on September 3. My mind wandered and wondered. I realized we can find gratitude even during the darkest days.
Just two months ago, Hurricane Harvey pummeled through Houston. Its residents continue to repair, renew, and renovate not only their devastated homes but also their hearts. I am admittedly not a sports fanatic. To be honest, I didn’t even know this week was the World Series! My brother was at our home, and he asked to turn on the television. And then I heard the Astros won! The timing of this victory struck me like a home run. It hit me hard that life works that way. So often we are thrown a curve ball that can head in a positive or negative direction. I was thrilled for this city who’d just weeks ago experienced such devastation.
I love reading feature stories about athletes and their journeys. Several sports journalists write with visual vigor and detailed imagery, which I appreciate on many levels. I’ve realized over the years that I do not enjoy sitting in the heat and watching other humans annihilate one another. In fact, I groan and worry about how many concussions these players may have or if someone will expire on the field! (And yes people, I do know the World Series is baseball, and I just described football. But that’s about the extent of my sports savvy!)
Another game changer was when Hurricane Katrina touched down in New Orleans. I felt deep sadness for those who experienced the trauma and terror that Katrina caused in 2005. Yet. Once again, an unexpected moment lifted the spirits of saddened souls there. The Saints won their first game they played in the Louisiana Superdome, which had been damaged the year before from the storm. I remember the inspiring stories I’d read about a downtrodden city whose people felt revived and recharged, even if just for a day.
Weather and sports events are symbolic of how happiness and horror can and do co-occur. The human journey is full of sunshine and rain. I believe most storms have a silver lining, if we are open to seeing it. I tell my children that we often learn from the tough, turbulent times more than the easier ones.
Our lives are an ongoing, unpredictable game. We make daily decisions regarding when to drop or catch a ball. There’s value in pausing and assessing a play before we react to what is being thrown at us. We are in control of the next move we make, and we must shift positions when necessary. If we don’t know how? Life will give us sometimes painful opportunities to practice skills such as setting boundaries, pushing back, or knowing when to walk off the field.
I am grateful for the losses, though they’re heart wrenching and exhausting. We sometimes learn that what we once thought was a loss is actually a gain. Whoever should be on your team will show up. They won’t skip practice, and they’ll never quit. Those who are benched or leave the field make room for positive, dedicated teammates.
You can win your own personal World Series or Superbowl. If you huddle with close friends and family, you’ll feel supported by compassionate coaches. That will require flexibility, honesty, reviewing past fumbles, and more. Don’t give up. Push through the pain because the growth that follows is worth the emotional workout and training.