Bottom of the ninth, bases loaded and Mighty Casey is up to bat. Well, that’s mythical baseball and it serves as a satisfactory metaphor for what our human condition is not. The big game. The glaring headlines and stardom filled interviews. Our human condition has never been anything other than falsely exemplified by such portrayals, yet these singular presentations permeate the fabric of our every day reality more so than ever before in human history. Rationality and life experience have little to do with how we unwittingly but willingly allow ourselves to be attracted to brilliant hot light knowing that when we get close enough, or God willing become, that light ourselves we will quickly melt and dissolve back into a fluttering mess of singed feathers, torched skin and toasted meat.
Our lives are games of small ball. The real lives we winnow our way through while bouncing back and forth between the real and phenomenal world. In the real world there are no great stars, heroes or heroines of god-like powers and merit. Those only exist in the myth based phenomenal world of our grand group creation. Real stars and hero’s are just people like you and I. They are flawed, addicted, damaged and filled with secret denial of common committed sin. Our games of small ball revolve around things called jobs, friends, partners, spouses, children, homes, cars and every day survival. We are never stationed at home base, waiting for the three balls and two strikes pitch to be delivered over the plate so we can drive in the winning run and win the game. We are only that in our internal imagined world supported by a media and entertainment industry committed to showing us things we claim we want to be real.
Reality, if it occurs following the Mighty Casey scenario (this time Casey hits the ball out of the park), comes with instant ebullience and bloated endorphin joy. It’s quickly followed by loneliness, alienation, ownership and misery. We know this but we keep our knowledge secret from that part of our brain always striving to outperform everyone around us at everything, anything or at least something. We cannot stop even though we see those who’ve gone before and been selected to be that rarest human (a true national star) burning brightly as they approach the light before us. Neal Armstrong, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson, Mohammed Ali and the list goes on and on. Great stars and heros every one, as they flew toward the all-consuming light of reality, their lives self-sacrificed to outperform everyone in a phenomenal world that never really existed at all.
We live to survive. We survive to propagate. We propagate to propel our spawn into a world with more chance for survival. We do this with great performances at the smallest levels of endeavor. We do it by getting a raise at work, by keeping our job, by staying off drugs and not drinking too much. We do it by working through marital discord with tolerance instead of unsatisfactory replacement. We do it by hugging our kids and letting them know they are of worth and loved. We do it by hitting the small balls day after day and week after week. We do it by taking our imagined rise to super star status and converting that pursuit and energy into squeezing out a successful baseline bunt instead of the game winning grand slam home run. There is a popular expression that makes no sense: “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” The lie in that statement is the use of the word good. In reality, the road to hell is paved with bad intentions. It is the road to bliss that is paved in good intentions. To go through life all the way to the end with bliss is to truly win a game that isn’t a game at all. To win the false admiration of all by conquering feats of public renown is simply to sacrifice one’s life, knowingly or unknowingly, to a conclusion satisfying only a cloying, damaged and unthinking audience at the expense of the team of small ball players we might have otherwise lived in bliss with through all of our life. Mighty Casey does not exist in the real world any more than our image of Ryan Braun, Lance Armstrong or Barack Obama.
Stand at the plate, time after time, dream of hitting the grand slam home run but go for the base hit, the base on balls or the force out. Advancing the runners on your ‘team’ has a lot more to do with living with bliss than it has to do with winning a game wherein the play is the only part of the ‘game’ where bliss is to be found and enjoyed.