CHARLOTTE, NC: There’s an old baseball adage that goes “Baseball is a team sport played by individuals.” Which is not unlike the fight against the progression of ALS. With both ALS and baseball, it is you that is fighting, but that fight does require teamwork. That the fight needs one to relearn the value of faith.
Subconsciously, I believe that is one of the things that drew me to the sport way back when. Baseball is truly a game that requires teamwork, yet it is also a sport where individuals can excel both offensively and defensively. The key to the game is knowing when you must do things on your own and when you must rely on a teammate to synchronize his thoughts with yours.
In that sense, baseball is a ballet played out on a grass and dirt diamond where size is irrelevant and anticipation and desire are key.
ALS is an individual disease that requires teamwork much the same as baseball.
People battling ALS often feel that things are the same as they used to be until they remember they are not. As such, ALS patients must rely on outside assistance, and therein lies the teamwork aspect of the condition. Support comes from virtually everywhere, and, truthfully, until I was diagnosed with the disease, I was completely unaware of how many teammates I have.
Assistance comes in many ways and many forms; cutting the grass, bringing food, driving to and from places, caregiving, cutting food, getting in and out of cars and on and on.
There is a collection of chores that require the talents and/or aid from another individual. Most interesting is that the help arises from friends, neighbors, and relatives as well as from complete strangers.
Finding caregivers among strangers
Recently while cruising through Alaska I realized that there were a few thousand other passengers that all became extended caregivers. In their own way, these anonymous personalities became my “team” and it was a blessing.
Baseball is like that too, which is probably why I relate so closely to it. I could steal a base on my own to put myself in scoring position for the batters behind me. Or we could hit and run where the batter and runner must coordinate to make the play work.
I could hit a sacrifice fly with a man on third or I could drop down a bunt to get him home. It was an individual effort designed to do what was necessary to score a run.
Double plays are a great example of efficient expert timing where an infielder must get to second base quickly to catch the ball and then throw to first. There is no margin for error because from the moment the ball is hit until it reaches its destination, is scooped up and thrown to second and then on to first, takes only about 4 seconds.
That’s teamwork. That’s playing the “slowly” paced game to the height of speed and accuracy.
Anticipation, ALS and baseball
Anticipation is what ALS and baseball is all about. As one patient so accurately put it,
“Our reality is that we are forever adapting to our body’s changing landscape.”
If nothing else, faith, or its renewal, is a significant manifestation of ALS. Faith minimizes the fears and anxieties of the inevitable. It offers a sense of purpose during periods of uncertainty when questions are more difficult than the answers.
As with baseball, an ALS patient is not limited to being helpless or not giving back. Recently a neighbor stopped by and asked if he could use our van which has been adapted for wheelchair access so that he could take his disabled mother to dinner.
In the past, our neighbor had rented a van, which was both expensive and inconvenient. When he mentioned that to us, we told him to just use our vehicle when it was necessary in order to save time, money and energy.
It was our way of giving back. This time we were able to assist someone who is just one of many who has helped us during our ALS ordeal.
As Stephanie Hubach so poignantly wrote
“(disability) is just a more noticeable form of the brokenness that is common to the human experience.”
The Value of Faith in coping with ALS
At one time or another, for whatever reason or whatever the circumstance, each of us is broken in some way. In the end, it is simply a difference of degree.
A wise ALS patient wrote three marvelous suggestions for coping with the disease and for re-emphasizing her faith:
1. Find your “peaceful” center
2. Assist others toward theirs
3. Elevate your center despite the disease’s gravity
Faith is one of the great intangibles of life that generates personal ideals and philosophies in each of us.
Roy T. Bennett wrote in “The Light in the Heart” that “Your hardest times often lead to the greatest moments of your life. Keep going. Tough situations build strong people in the end.”
According to Rabindranath Tagore, “Faith is the bird that feels the light and sings when the dawn is still dark.”
Or these words of inspiration: “Sorrow looks back, Worry looks around, Faith looks up” from Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Much like baseball, “faith” is a metaphor for a team sport played by individuals.
“Keep the faith, baby!”
About the Author:
Bob Taylor is a veteran writer who has traveled throughout the world. Taylor is anaward-winningg television producer/reporter/anchor before focusing on writing about international events, people and cultures around the globe.
Taylor is the founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com)
Editors Note: Support Bob’s GoFundMe to give him a hand up