This can be a tough time of year for a lot of people. And no matter how you feel about snow and cold weather, there is no doubt that it can be difficult to handle. That’s why people often get depressed when the calendar reaches the end of February: a lack of sunlight and the difficulty getting out of the house to socialize with others affects our psyche, (not just emotionally, as there is scientific data to support this).
And to top that off, Mother Nature can pull cruel jokes on us. We wake up one day and the sun is shining. We go outdoors to find that the temperature has risen and it smells like spring is on its way. And then – BAM – the next day it is 10 below zero and another foot of snow has been dumped upon us. Is it any wonder why we struggle?
Today I am going to write about winter-busters: those special things we do to boost our spirits in order to bridge the gap between the last, tiresome days of winter and the first, glorious days of springtime (which where I live starts around the end of June and lasts for two days). These coping mechanisms are powerful tools that are used to promote mental health and wholeness. They are survival skills, and they can be adapted to fit many situations where “a change of thinking” is helpful. In a sense, this is meditation, but not done inwardly. It is active and outward, but its flow is internal, and its effect is to soothe the soul. I will talk about one of mine. You think about what yours might be.
Baseball is the most glorious game ever invented. Its beauty has been written about in the most romantic novels. Someday, perhaps, one of mine will be included in the list. One never knows.
Baseball is constant. It is ever-present and dependable, like the seasons of the year. It marks time and connects generations in a constant flow of memory and senses and numbers to record everything so that a mere glance at a box score will spring to life a replay in the mind’s theater. It is the backbone of my existence.
Just as the robin (above left) is the harbinger of spring, so too did I have my own harbinger. His name was Phil Rizzuto (above right) and he used to broadcast baseball games for the New York Yankees. His voice was nasal, with an ethnic Italian-Brooklyn accent, not exactly pleasant to some, but music to my ears. He was my robin. After a long winter apart from my love, hearing his voice told me that spring was approaching and baseball soon would be back. I could never be sad after that.
Sadly, Mr. Rizzuto left us a few years back, but the wonderful feeling I get this time of year when I see baseball players packing their gear and heading south still dwells in my heart as strong as ever. I can look out my window and see piles of snow that are higher than my head; and look at my television to see my heroes tossing a ball around. All of a sudden, I am eight years old again and I am riding my bicycle to the local candy store to see if this year’s baseball cards have arrived. My heart races with enthusiasm as I grab my cherished baseball glove, a birthday present from my uncle, who taught me how to properly break it in and oil it to a smooth perfection.
I am forever a boy playing a timeless game where the sun always shines, the grass is always green and clocks do not exist. I am in Heaven.
The players stretch and sweat and work off the results of the holidays and the days spent with large mugs of hot cocoa and big slices of apple pie. And I am right beside them, wondering why I don’t stretch as easily as I used to – and if this is the year that I might finally make the squad, traveling north with them to play in the Big Leagues.
This is my Nirvana, my distraction, my winter-buster. This is my place where I can always have a catch with my father, and we can always watch the games together. This is the place where no one ever dies.
This is my love, my peace and my happiness. And these are my heroes, and I cry for them because I will miss them when they say goodbye.