“I believe there ought to be a constitutional amendment outlawing Astroturf and the designated hitter. I believe in the sweet spot, soft core pornography, opening your presents Christmas morning rather than Christmas eve and I believe in long, slow, deep, soft, wet kisses that last three days.” — Kevin Costner as minor league catcher Crash in Bull Durham
In 1988, when the movie Bull Durham was released, my friends and I immediately fell for Kevin Costner’s character, Crash. He was everything we thought a love-interest should be: romantic yet rough around the edges, seasoned, able to see through the extraneous into the heart of things. That the movie was as much about baseball as love (maybe even more so – I haven’t watched it in years) just added a dimension of the all-American to an unconventional love story.
Thirty years later, I’ve not forgotten how I felt the first time I watched Costner deliver Crash’s “I believe” speech. It wasn’t just that I was young and he was good looking, though I’m certain that played a part. More, I think the speech resonated with viewers because we appreciate it when people simply, even boldly, declare what they believe in.
Every day, lately, I turn on the news or sign on to social media and I find anger and outrage. A lot of people are talking about what they don’t believe in (myself included). I’m not saying that it isn’t important to speak out – what we are against is every bit as important as what we are for. However, I have to find some balance because I feel, a lot of the time these days, like I’m tumbling into a dark abyss. Remembering a normal day a year ago feels like looking down a dark tunnel toward a very bright light. That isn’t normal, even if it is an understandable reaction to the current state of world affairs.
“I believe that if life gives you lemons, you should make lemonade… And try to find somebody whose life has given them vodka, and have a party.” — Ron White, comedian
While I haven’t actually consumed any vodka-lemonades lately (I may have to rectify that oversight!), I have been reminded that friends and community are a great antidote to abyss-tumbling. A couple of weeks ago, I met a friend for a storytelling event sponsored by a local nonprofit called The Hook. It was a wonderful opportunity to hear other people’s stories, to learn about what they believe – what they are for and against in their lives. There’s a wonderful alchemy that happens with storytelling in that kind of community setting – it becomes incredibly difficult to see the storyteller as “the other”, or worse, as an enemy. Even if what they are espousing or seem to believe is foreign or antithetical to my experience and firmly held beliefs, that alchemy allows us to connect through our shared humanity and our imperfections.
Last weekend, I spent Saturday night visiting friends. When the clock came around to bedtimes for the two children, I volunteered to tuck them in. One prefers being sung to, and requested my greatest hits (“The one about horsies”, “the one about the dragon”) while the older child prefers made-up stories while having her back scratched. These ordinary, homey moments with loved ones were a balm to my worried, weary soul.
Did the world miraculously change either of those nights while I was experiencing the warmth and love that community and friendship offer? Nope. What did change was my perspective. I was reminded that I am resilient. I was reminded that love is a powerful force in individual lives and experiences. Extending that to the larger community of which we are all a part, love is a powerful force for good. Please don’t misunderstand me when I use the word “love”. I am not referring only to the expression of intimate feelings shared between individuals – though that is the deeply personal experience that opens us to the much more vast and encompassing force of love.
I believe that love is a cosmic force that permeates every particle of creation. I believe that the degree to which I am able to act and react from a place of love will determine the degree to which I make a positive contribution to my world. I believe that the more ways we find to connect with others, to form webs of connection throughout the various groups and communities of which we are a part, the more we will effect positive outcomes for and with one another.
I believe that loving connection is how I will find much needed balance in those moments when I am most afraid of tumbling into darkness.
“I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality… I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word. ” — Martin Luther King, Jr.