This kid was flying high! He spent crazy amounts of time perfecting his lacrosse stick and it was rarely out of his hands when he was not in class.
As tryouts began we weren’t discussing whether he’d make the team the second year but whether he’d play JV or Varsity. After 3 days of tryouts, he wasn’t recruited for either team. He was crushed. To make matters worse the coach had said that they just didn’t see enough heart in his play!
I wrapped my big, sweet, sad boy in my arms and let him cry.
And when the tears subsided I offered that we take a BIG step back and see this situation more clearly. First we discussed if he felt the coach’s take on his “heart” was accurate. My boy is not the fleetest of foot, so drills that had the boys running the length of the field left him a bit in the dust. He assumed this is what the coach saw and therefore assumed he wasn’t giving it his all. “But mom I love this game and I was really working my hardest!” So, I said, “only you know what’s in your heart and if you don’t feel he read you right then you should speak to him about it.” And “ why do you love this game?” Is it to be a star or because you like to be with your friends? Having something to do after school? You like the challenge? Being part of a team?
Let me say this is not an easy conversation to have with a wounded teenager. His entire ego – his “cool” - was in wielding that Lacrosse stick. His identity was in the gear, the “Lax-bro” costume of pinnies and high socks, and the gestalt of being a player. And who was he now without that? What were his options? Some of the kids that got cut that season just said, “screw it! I’m out of here!” and hung out in their respective basements afterschool that spring. Life, however, is full of these game-changers and I wanted to help my son see that this was the first step toward really knowing himself.
Seeing the forest for the trees or taking the 20,000 foot view, which ever metaphor you prefer, when we slam into something unexpected before we “go postal” or hide in our basements we usually need to take a step back and few full breaths before we can see clearly. It’s not easy to do, to see ourselves clearly. That’s why we so often create stories about who we are and what we do or don’t do as a way to protect ourselves. How many times have you heard someone you know or yourself say I could never ____________________ ! Fill in the blank: wear the color red, become a vegetarian, run a marathon, live in another country, meditate, etc. And then we hear or say: I’m too busy, I’m too restless, I’m not disciplined enough, I’m not flexible enough, etc. or the stories are longer or more involved or involve the expectations of others – how our spouses, kids, parents, friends, expect us to be. We get so caught up in all of that, that we are seriously lost deep in the woods and then it can be a long walk out before you can see the forest for the trees. In Sanskrit the word Avidya which is translated as delusion has as its root, ‘vid’ is to see. Vidya is clear seeing or knowledge. Avidya is to not see clearly, and in the Hindu and Buddhist traditions it is spoken of our misunderstanding of ourselves in and of the world. How to move from avidya to vidya is the question.
Who am I without my Lacrosse stick?
My brave kid called the coach and left him a message – “ I might not be the fastest kid, or have the best stick skills, but you don’t know what’s in my heart – I love Lacrosse and I want to be part of the team and if I can’t play is there another way I could contribute?” He went to school and held his head high. He spent the season with the team keeping the books, working out with the team and by the season’s end, he suited up a few times and took the field. So he worked hard and fought for something he wanted but that’s not the happy ending. He looked at his hurt, he let it hurt and then he looked deeper, beyond the fear of not being what he thought he should be to whom he truly is – a boy with a lot of heart!