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Bob Beverley – A Hill of Beans 4

The blessed moment of looking at life through the eyes of wonder as if for the first time, the fight against indifference…

Today I share an article from one of my favorite writers, Bob Beverley. He has a wonderful way of getting to the heart of our struggles and our joys and reminding us of our need to love. I hope you enjoy…

I’m no good at being noble, but it doesn’t take much to see that the problems of three little people don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world. Someday you’ll understand that. Now, now. Here’s looking at you, kid.”

Rick in “Casablanca”

I have undergone open heart surgery twice in my lifetime and can speak from varied experience that one of the side effects of the procedure is the propensity to cry at the drop of a hat.

I was watching a Boston Red Sox game today and one of the Sox players, a very good looking man named Brock Holt, hit his first home run. I cried, just a little bit. Another Red Sox player got hurt as he tried to make a great catch and I cried even more and my throat let out a little yelp which sounded as if a small dog was in the room, as the player fell to the ground like a rag doll.

This pales in comparison to the flood of tears that overcame me when The New York Rangers beat the Montreal Canadians the other night and advanced to the Stanley Cup finals. I am so glad that I was alone, not because I am embarrassed by emotion or tears, but because I could more simply let the river run and feel so, so much-my love of Canada and its great game of hockey, my happiness for the underdog Rangers who have played so well, my admiration for the rookie Canadian goaltender who kept the games to a nail-biting level, and my respect for the noble tradition of the players shaking hands at the end of the game in a magnificent show of sportsmanship.

My tears danced in a symphony with what was happening on the ice as the Ranger fans went wild and the men in blue leapt into one another’s arms in celebration and joy. I noticed how much I was crying and knew it was a bit over the top because of my surgical postlude, but I allowed the tears to continue and enjoyed, in an amused kind of way, my depth of feeling. I felt my own joy. I felt deep satisfaction in my renewed love affair with hockey, an affair that began when I was a little boy and knew at age 6 the name of every hockey player in the game. I saw clearly that what makes life worth living is what we love, with the focus not being on the “we” or the “love” but on the “what”-whatever that “what” happens to me. As oft noted, the opposite of love is not hatred, but indifference—and it is our indifference which makes things seem like a hill of beans.

And why are we often so indifferent, when there is so much to love, so much what-ness to enjoy?

We might be indifferent because we have been hurt and we want to protect our heart. Or we might not care because we are too tired to care. “Energy is eternal delight” (William Blake). We are perhaps indifferent because we are scared—scared to put some skin in the game, scared even to figure out what game we want to be in because it is scary to be an individual, to be a creator, to have author-ity, to use our freedom in a way that really seeks to make a difference, to make things better in a way that we want to make things better. It is easier to be aloof, to be cynical, to be a critic. And it is cool in our day to be indifferent. It hides our despair and our fear, our selfishness.

Indifference can stem from a childhood where depression was the air we breathed or we were simply not taught to delight in ourselves or the lovely things of life. And, of course, life can feel long and arduous as we have to climb the ladders, make ends meet, and know in our bones and bank account that all that we can do is get by. We need mercy and grace and helping hands. We need to be those helping hands, if we can-and we can! How much easier though, to instead blame people, to blame ourselves, than admit the toughness of life, the massive injustice, the cruelty of greed and bad power, the ongoing damage of inner human brokenness and outer poverty. Blame is an easy way of being indifferent, blame hides within our ignorance of obvious evil.

Who knows what will save us, what will bring us back to our senses, but it seems clear that salvation often comes from unexpected places, in unexpected ways. Salvation is a breath of fresh air and when it hits, as it did with me and the New York Rangers, we feel the deep meaning of life, the natural respect we have for the strange gifts of life, the strange gift of life. I use the word “strange” deliberately because the most common cause of our indifference is that we simply grow so used to everything, so easily take anything for granted. The abiding truth remains: everything we love is weird, unique, odd, amazing, and wonderful.

“Seeing something for the first time is magical. Seeing something again for the first time is genius.” (Dick Weber)

If all this is true, we can see what mercy we need, what grace, what forgiveness. Which brings me back to the Ranger game. I was starting to calm down, the tears were abating, when all of a sudden I realized that Brandon Prust, a Montreal Canadian, was going to have to shake hands with Derek Stepan, a Ranger player whose jaw Prust broke in a vicious uncalled for hit in game 3 of the series. I wondered if they would either ignore one another or if perhaps something not so nice would happen. What happened was a miracle, the miracle of forgiveness, the miracle of respect, the miracle of understanding. Brandon Prust paused for a while with Stepan, he looked him straight in the eyes, he put his hand on his shoulder, and I know that he asked for his forgiveness and I know that Stepan forgave him because he stayed with him, he did not hurry away, he knew that he was capable of the same bad act. I do not know this at the level that I can guarantee it, because who knows the human heart from afar. All I know is that I wept uncontrollably and felt to the depth of my being that life is no hill of beans, that everyone matters, and that forgiveness is the miracle that allows us to play.

Copyright 2014 Bob Beverley is a psychotherapist in the mid-Hudson Valley of New York State, USA.

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