I guess I need to get used to having wisdom bombs dropped on me by my son because they keep happening.
Especially through the game of baseball.
The first came a few years ago when I was putting the kids to bed. I always ask for their favorite part of the day. Ben’s was watching the Cubs game with me. It blew me away because I would have listed it as my lowlight. They lost a game in excruciating fashion, effectively ruining my day. Interestingly, I no longer remember if they blew the lead or came up short in a comeback — or even who they played — but I remember the lesson he taught me. All he cared about was spending time with me, regardless of the outcome.
As I’ve shared before, I have some past trauma from a few adults who made me feel “less than” for being a Cubs fan. I’m not talking good-natured teasing, but more in the vein of a “you’re a dumb pathetic loser for liking them” vibe. I can see the absurdity in it all now, but when a grown-up makes you feel like that when you’re a certain age, it’s hard to not have a little of your self-identity wrapped up in it as you get older.
All this to say I used to take it pretty hard when the Cubs lost, until Ben gave me back the joy of watching baseball.
Ben likes the Cubs because I like the Cubs. And this year, he has gotten into the stats and the players, and the announcers more than ever. This is the year he became a fan.
But he doesn’t take the losses so hard. He’s disappointed for about three seconds and then moves on.
Seeing Ben’s reaction has changed me. I respect his perspective and purity so much that I don’t want to inadvertently poison him with my own baggage, as those adults from my past did to me. So when we’re watching a game together, I keep my negative emotions in check, and his carefree attitude encourages me to brush off the losses. (We do still cheer and celebrate like crazy people when exciting things happen.)
Because of this, years from now, I will think back fondly to the days of watching Cubs games with Ben on the deck under the umbrella, snacking on cherries, jeering at umpires, and cheering home runs with unbridled joy. I won’t remember the specific outcomes, because the wins and losses will have faded into unimportant footnotes in a treasury of wonderful memories.
He continues to remind me that the outcome is not an all-or-nothing referendum on my self-esteem and worth as a human being. He’s helped me to appreciate what really matters.
The other day, he dropped another wisdom bomb on me.
The Cubs lost a game to the Mets they should have won that had a big impact on the standings. Ben casually remarked, “You have to look for the win in every game,” and then noted how good it was that their slugger broke out of a long slump with a single, triple, and home run in the losing effort. He declared that a win because they’d need him to perform well down the stretch if they wanted to win the division.
“You have to look for the win in every game.”
I don’t know where the hell he got that, but it wasn’t from me.
The hidden bonus of this gem is that if you can find the win in every game, you never truly lose.
And of course, this is way bigger than baseball.
Not everything we attempt succeeds. Sometimes we don’t get the job, the role, or the girl. We don’t always get into the school we wanted, make it to the gate on time, or receive the diagnosis we were hoping for.
But we can look for the win in every game.
If you can find some useful knowledge that was gained, a hidden blessing in disguise, or something tiny to celebrate in every scenario you find yourself in, you never truly lose.
This is how you go undefeated in life.
Look for the win in every game.