Alive — Fiat Lux

Fiat Lux
Education, for the most part, was painful, dull, a prison — sitting at a desk surrounded by four walls with no windows.  I can think of only a handful of teachers that made education interesting from elementary through high school.  It wasn’t until I entered the gates of Berkeley that the university’s motto “Fiat Lux” kindled a passion inside me for knowledge.  And it wasn’t just a passion for knowledge, but a passion to learn how to write and think…for myself.  It was this challenge that led me to major in Rhetoric — a very difficult and challenging liberal arts program that focused on ancient classical literature and persuasive writing.

Doe LibraryThis period in my life was truly beautiful…”Mens sana in corpore sano”.  In the morning and early afternoon I would attend class.  In the late afternoon I would spend hours on the green field playing baseball.  In the evening I would go on campus to one of the beautiful large libraries to study.  Ah, the libraries on this campus were truly divine — the musty smell of the past…the quiet echoes…the purposeful architecture and decor…a place…a temple…constructed so those within could appreciate and worship knowledge.  This beautiful place was built to pay homage to great minds from the past that cared enough to speak in hopes we will be supple enough to listen.
campus2It was in the depths of library halls or basking in the dreamy sunlight on some grassy campus knoll that my passion for knowledge began to over-shadow my passion for baseball.  Over-time, ironically, it was the baseball field that began to feel like prison — mechanical, repetition, compulsory, a burden.  I was no longer interested in devoting so much time and energy to a game with defined rules.  I didn’t want to become a full-grown man still playing a child’s game.  The world was so much bigger and wider and freer than the walls of a baseball field.  And so I let go a big piece of who I was.  Feeling alive and free was now more about thought, contemplation, observation, and exploration — it was about noticing the light.               

Alive — Baseball

baseballWhy did you commit so much of your youth, from age seven to twenty, to this game called baseball?  What drove you to work so hard, for so many years, to improve?  And why…after all that dedication, sacrifice, and improvement…when coaches and scouts were talking about your great potential to go professional…did you decide to leave the game behind?  And you know…had you continued with passion and focus…that you had a very good chance to go all the way…barring injury and getting some good luck…or avoiding some bad luck.

In a way, this game molded and shaped the core of your being…your brain…your identity.  For no matter how we try to spin it…we are what we spend most of our time and energy doing.  And, what we do in our youth, while our brain and body are developing, shapes who we are then and well into the future.

dusk2Your passion for the game formed early in your childhood–it was torture watching your brothers play organized baseball.  In everything else…all other games and adventures…you were included.  But organized baseball wasn’t available to kids your age.  You really were obsessed with this sport at that early age.  Remember when your parents said we were moving to California…you thought…that will be a much better place to play baseball since it is sunny all year-long.  But this only explains the interest.  What kept you engaged in this sport for so many years?

diveWell, to answer this question, I must try express myself at the unconscious level..which is really what being successful in sports is all about…not thinking…instinct…letting go…a relaxed state of wildness.  You loved to be outside…the smell and look of freshly cut grass…the sun…the clouds…the wind blowing shadows over the field…the war paint under the eyes…use of muscle…physical skill…overcoming odds and failure…slamming into the dirt head first full speed…blood, sweat, dirt, stained mix of all three…sacrificing body with graceful abandonment…body parallel to ground…every inch stretched to the limit yet relaxed…slow motion…flying through the air…reaching for the white spinning leather.

DuskWords meant nothing…actions and performance told all…lead by example…motivate others by visible deeds…sunsets…dusk…the smell of night approaching…lights…feel more alert…all is more visible…sense of speed and courage increases…healthy pressure and stress releases adrenaline into blood…no fear…immortal…muscle and bone prepared to collide with earth or other muscle or bone without reservation…intimidate opponent with speed and unbridled desire…quick bat…sweet spot…crack…run like the wind…quiet…invisible…here then there…gone…white lightening.  Pain, injuries, cuts, blood, bruises…battle scars from being Alive.  Continual improvement…no limit…pushing oneself…by oneself…to new levels.

lightsNo wonder you excelled at this game.  So…why did you give it up?  Because you realized baseball, in its highest form, is for kids.  Because you didn’t have anything in common with those around you.  Because you weren’t after fame or fortune.  Because you wanted another challenge in the sphere of consciousness.  Because you knew there was much more to learn, explore, and experience…outside the defined rules and walls of a kids game.