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Professional Calvinball Rules


I had a dream the other night that I was going out with a group of colleagues, people from work as it were, to play baseball. There were so many of us that we had to use two adjacent ballfields. The first one was perfect, well kept, beautiful, with a fully functional scoreboard. The adjacent field was overgrown, irregular, with trees growing here and there in the field, and the bases were poorly marked.

I ended up playing in the irregular field, with loosely defined teams and even more loosely defined rules. It seemed to be a hodgepodge of baseball, kickball, tag, and improv comedy. And we were having a great time.

In the meantime in the other field the crisply suited teams were playing their game. Occasionally a ball from their field would fly into ours and, to their consternation, we'd often throw it back into play impishly.

I think I'm coming to terms with the fact that I'm never going to climb the ladder in my chosen profession. I'm never going to go "big league." But it's not because I'm untalented, it's just because I'm not playing that game. I'm over here in an overgrown field playing by Calvinball rules and I'm enjoying myself quite nicely, thank you very much.


I have a little core of ambition, and every once in awhile, I do think about the things that I won't do in life, places I won't live, jobs I won't have...because everytime you make one choice, for good or bad (and I've done plenty of both), you exclude all of the other possibilities. More frequently, however, I find myself realizing how meaningless some of those achievements, or possessions, or really-pretty-houses-on-Cape-Cod are in the view of eternity. I die, they become nothing--which is not to say that they are bad, or that I would turn down the house on the beach if it somehow became possible, but that in the end, they just will not matter, and they and I will be forgotten. I can't imagine that one day I'll be hanging out in Heaven, regretting that I never had a fabulously decorated house, that I never lost every single extra pound, wore lovely clothes, had great hair, or earned a doctorate, that I never was a curator at Winterthur, or an interpreter at Williamsburg or Plimoth, that I never won the National Book Award, or all of the things you think you might pull off when you're filling out your college applications. It was very liberating when I realized one day that the vast majority of people just go to work and go home, and do their best to raise their families and muddle through, and that God expects us to do our best to serve Him and the people we come in contact with, not to win all of the world's "gold stars." It seems to me that there is a bit of compromise in "playing the game,"--and not the good kind, either. You might compromise your family, your values, your morals, or even the truth to get in those higher echelons--even those in the church--and I have to wonder, when does all that achievement stop being about serving God and man, and about serving one's own ambition and ego? If you love the Lord with all your heart, soul and mind, and your neighbor as yourself, (all of it hard enough!) then you have done everything that is necessary and wonderful in life. Go calvinball!

Another thing this entry made me think about....When you have specific talents, or blessings, as all of us do, aren't we accountable to God for how we use them? For example, if I were good at, say, cutting things, would it really be a good use of my talent to spend my life upsizing perfectly healthy breasts and giving restylane injections, however beneficial it might be for my bottom line? If I was a good writer, would it please God if I novels with huge amts of graphic sex and violence--although they sold well? Or, if I could act, would it serve God's purposes if I took roles in any movie with "American Pie" in the title? Same thing with money. I just watched a House Hunters episode in which a couple bought a vacation house in Nicaragua...if I ever had the money to afford something like that....would that realllllly be the purpose for which God entrusted it to me? I kinda doubt it.
I'm thinking that there's a little bit of irony to the Calvinball scenario...it may seem to those playing in the well-marked field that they are following the rules and doing what they are supposed to do in life, when in reality, the clearest, simplest rules are being followed in the messier field. It's just a little scarier, because in the messier field, we can't always see the results of what we are doing, or know exactly how to help those we are trying to reach (or if we'll even reach them at all). Still, maybe the next time they throw the ball into your field, you should make them come and get it. :)


Keep hope alive.

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