It took me a long time to figure out how to approach this.
The picture almost tells the whole story. A baseball fan in the US, in trying to catch a home run, fell from a table top and was saved by his friends from a 20 foot fall by a grab of an arm and a leg. Don’t be fooled by the smiling face of one of the 3 guys below – if you watch the video, out falling friend, hereby known as ‘Table Guy’ isn’t falling the seemingly small 6 feet before he makes contact with the ground below. His precipitous drop of 20+ feet is potentially far more catastrophic.
Look, I wasn’t sure whether to approach this because of the death of a baseball fan in similar circumstances very recently. I’m not going to link the clip or the article of this sad event. I struggled to watch it and I won’t ever watch it again. It’s sure as hell not funny and I’m not going to relate what happened there to this scenario. A father and beloved fireman died. Enough said.
But what did stir the thought pot in this situation was this photo, taken from behind, moments before the situation unfolded.
As I looked at it and as I look at it, I can’t help but think, ‘You couldn’t have seen this coming?’It’s not hard to evaluate for yourself the precariousness of his predicament. I wonder how many drinks he had consumed up to this point; there’s the judgemental side of my personality… As I related the photo back to my own attempt of going 12 months without sport, I wonder what I have missed in the past in having my eyes so focused ‘on the ball’. What friendships haven’t been developed as closely as they could have because of my fixation on sport? Where has my ongoing education as a lifelong learner been hampered and stifled by the processing of inordinate amounts of sporting data? Where have I been unavailable to people due to set plans to watch ‘whatever important game’ was on that particular day. (They’re all important in the moment, which made it very hard to communicate an imperative differentiation for a really crucial event when I did get asked [rarely] by my wife as to why I had to watch sport that night!)
Fortunately though, I believe in being focused on change, not on time. Those seemingly selfish decisions were in the past and I can only control my actions in the future. I am genuinely enthused about what lies ahead in ‘this season’.
‘Justice means justice’
I wrote earlier of ‘judgement’, now for the ‘justice’ part of my character. I have to ask, ‘Why on earth were ‘table guy’s’ friends and family allowing him to put himself in such danger? I know many of you could simply say, ‘Beer,’ and you will most likely be correct! But surely there’s a responsibility that isn’t being assumed here. Instead of taking a photo of a likely drama, perhaps a tap on the ankle and a, ‘Get the hell off the table’ would have been more helpful here? No? Anyone?!
I hope that in my life that if I am ‘standing on a table’ with my eyes glued to something that is shifting my attention from the pertinent things in life, that I will get that ‘tap’ and be told to pull my head in. As men, we are good at being there for each other when the ‘slip up’ happens, as it was for our ‘table guy’. Whether it be a relationship problem, alcohol or drug-related illness or some other form of addiction or setback, you can rely on your friends to be there to pick the pieces up. But how many of these situations could have been avoided had we had the preceding fortitude to ‘man up’ and say, “Buddy, you’re my friend and I will always be there for you, but you have to get xyz in order before something happens, because this is messed up.”
Okay, before this gets classified as an accountability sermon, I’ll move on soon, but in a work meeting recently, I shared, “The levels of respect, admiration and love between people in my life after robust conversations are always heightened, when often the opposite is feared. And this is whether I have initiated the conversations or they have. If we’re prepared to say it, we’ve got to be prepared to hear it too.” This is a lesson that I need to learn and be prepared to act on when such scenarios arise.
Without judging our beer swilling, loud, brash American sporting counterpart, that image of a flimsy table and a hazardous drop while my eyes are drawn to the sky above, staring dreamily at sport or whatever else I’m allowing to cloud my mind is something that will stay with me for some time.
By the way, I’ve just past the half century mark (today is #52) of no sport, allowing myself to exhale momentarily and a quick tilted bat with a nod towards the pavilion to demonstrate that I’m in this innings for the long haul. In this case though, a century won’t be enough. 365 beckons…
In the next post, ‘Cheating – where to draw the line’. (All connotations completely intentional.)