I was attending a volleyball game at my school to support my students. The volleyball coach runs up to me and says, “We may need you to be a line judge”. She quickly taught me the hand signals for “out” and “in”. Two arms down, pointing stiffly at the ground – in. Two hands, palms facing toward the chest, elbows locked and pulling the forearms stiffly to the face — out.
The next thing I knew I was holding a red flag like a semaphore calling a game, practicing and adjusting my movements to suit the call. I prayed there were no close calls and the ball was clearly in or out. It was a mess waiting to happen.
Game on. The ball hits close… Whistle blows. There is a dramatic pause and all goes silent. Is it “in” or “out”? All eyes on me. Up goes one hand, down goes the other. I created a new call for the game of volleyball. The net judge looks to me waiting for the call and asks with a quizzical look and the corners of his mouth curling in confusion while his teeth clenched the whistle waiting for a proper call. He slowly raises his arms indicating what’s it going to be?
I nod. It’s still not good enough. He makes the call. “Out”. I made out all right, as a student athlete relieved me of my duties.
I thought about the idea of judgment. We are thrown into things and have to make snap judgments and do the best we can. It’s hard to attend to life and make the best judgments we can. We have knee jerk reactions.
When you find the center of your being, you have a better shot at making the right decision. It may not always be the best one, but it’s the best one with the fullest knowledge that you are living mindfully.
There are things that happen to us in life that awaken us to making the most out of our lives and making the best decisions we can.
I have been taking students to service sites. One of the sites was UCP (United Cerebral Palsy). It was a powerful experience to witness the work being done there to help developmentally disabled people to contribute to society.
I went to lunch and all the tables were full, but I found an open table. A man was speaking on the phone and making a business deal. He was visibly angry about not being able to get the result he wanted. It was a big deal and he was “trying to close” but there was “incompetence” standing in the way of the closing. He hung up the phone.
I said, “You’re about to have one of the best sandwiches in Cleveland”. His mood lightened and we made small talk. He was a nice guy. We talked business and how challenging it is to manage people. I talked about how I knew that well. I was “managing teenagers” to do service.
When I was about to leave, I told him about UCP. I said, “I know you’re going through a challenging time, but you’re doing all right. I just witnessed a man who has limited control of his movement. He operates his wheelchair by moving his head to the left to move the chair left or moves his head right to move it right. He bangs his head to the back of the chair to move the chair back”.
The man paused and smiled. He reclaimed the moment of being. I didn’t mean to be overly righteous. I just wanted to remind him what’s important. Teachers are always looking for teachable moments. These carry over in life. When you see a moment to make a good point to help someone, the blessing of the moment must be claimed.
We all get lost in the heat of the moment. We are thrown into situations we may not expect. We have made good decisions and probably an equal number of bad decisions in life. We all need to step back and assess life based on the gift of being alive. Although we make these snap judgments about dealing with our needs, we have to remember to find the center and count the blessing.
Establishing principled character by walking through trip wires of experience can help us find that center. Our willingness to make the critical decisions in challenging times defines us. We’re going to blow some calls, but the proverbial game goes on. We need to be reminded that we’re playing the game. Are we having fun being present to the experience or are we caught in the stress of winning?
The choice you make will determine the call and claiming of the moment.