Sports and lessons
The following is an email message I sent to our fifth-grade grandson:
Dear Wyatt, I, too, was sad Saturday when your Norton team was eliminated in the playoffs. You were mad at yourself because your shots weren’t falling. My sadness is milder than yours, because I have lived a long time and I know that life works that way. It comes with many big and little downs and ups, big and little defeats and victories, big and little failures and successes. Having said that, I still remember when I was your age and losing a game or losing a girlfriend felt like the end of the world. Decades later, it still hurts, but it’s only a pinprick that hurts about 4 seconds.
T.H. White, in “The Once and Future King,” put this advice into the mouth of Merlin, the wise, old magician who tutored the future King Arthur:
The best thing for being sad is to learn something. That is the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honor trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then — to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the thing for you.
Last Saturday will become for you, I predict, a precious learning experience that will make you more compassionate in the future toward those, including yourself, who are having a bad day.