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What Comes Next

By: Diane Cameron

Diane Cameron is an award-winning journalist and speaker on recovery and personal growth. She is the author of two personal blogs: “Out of the Woods”—for women in long-term recovery, and “Love in the Time of Cancer”—for couples and caregivers. Diane teaches on topics related to the history and politics of mental health and recovery. Her newspaper column on popular culture appears in the Albany Times Union and in newspapers across the country. “What Comes Next” offers ideas, suggestions and provocative perspectives for men and women who have 10-plus years of recovery and reveals the continued emotional and spiritual growth that occurs with long recovery.

Baseball and Spiritual Life

(not rated)

Apr 25, 2012

The first thing I learned about baseball is this: If you raise your hand a man will bring you food. I learned this at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh, and in my first year as a fan I spent most of the game facing the wrong way. Raise my hand; get ice cream; raise my hand; get popcorn; raise my hand; get peanuts.  It was 1958.

Two years later, I understood it was a game. On summer afternoons I’d beg my brothers to take me with them to the ballpark. I was falling in love with baseball.

John Gregory Dunne wrote, “Baseball is the couch on which we examine our psyches.” George Will said, “Baseball is the universe.” And catcher Wes Westrum said, “Baseball is like church, many attend but few understand.”

We have these sayings and many more because baseball is one of the greatest sources of metaphor in American life. Maybe only Twelve Step recovery has more sayings and code words than America’s Game.

You may not think you are a fan of the sport but listen to how you talk about your life. Listen to others share in meetings.  Have you ever said: “I’m still in there pitching.” “You can’t even get to first base with him.” “She’s out in left field.”  We talk baseball all day long.

Baseball is one of the few sports that remain timeless. In this one area of our lives, we surrender the clock to the event.  But there is something else in this game that asserts the spiritual: In baseball we begin and end at home. The goal is to get home and to be safe. That’s also the goal for us in recovery, too. We drank because we thought we’d be safer socially or we’d be more comfortable. Then alcohol turned on us and we were out in left field feeling unsafe and we feared we’d never ever get home again. Then each of us experienced the miracle of recovery. Something happened. We found our way to a meeting. Many people say that when they came to their first meeting they knew they were home.

We all want that. Home implies safety, accessibility, freedom, comfort. Home is where we learn to be both with others and separate.  We crave this in baseball. We experience it in AA. We are keeping the faith.

Image courtesy of stock.xchng.

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