Marching down the generations, a line of humanity, person after person. We come down, hit life’s stage, rise up, do our thing and away! As actors in this universal drama, for whom do we perform?
When I was a seventh-grader I played in my town’s annual March-of-Dimes charity basketball game between a parochial middle school and a public middle school: all kids 14 or younger. The opposing team had a budding superstar and my assignment was to stick with and blanket him, from start to finish, on both ends of the court. I rarely touched the ball and took only one shot the whole game.
It was in the fourth quarter. I received a pass, dribbled around, stopped and found myself more than 30 feet from the basket. Because I had stopped dribbling, my defender backed off, leaving me alone out in the weeds. Unable to get the ball to a teammate, I eyed the basket. Time stopped as players on the court, and everyone else in the full auditorium, waited to see if I would take the shot. After what must have seemed like an unrelentingly long time, I rifled from the hip and let fly a grand rainbow — a high-arcing, “dreaming” kind of shot.
Like rainbows, lives have arcs to them. As babies we’re totally dependent and then gradually grow to reach our physical peak before inexorably starting down the other side. Our endeavors have their own arcs: some shorter, some longer. In the charity basketball game of fifty years ago, with fellow students, teachers and hundreds of townspeople looking on, I aimed for my pot of gold at the rainbow’s end. It was a wild, stupid risk. But I did it anyway.
Not knowing our own innate beauty, not heeding the quiet whisper of the heart, too often we play to the audience, or follow its script. And how do our audiences repay us? By judging, rating and climbing over us. That’s life, we’re told. Get with the program: be a fighter. Quit your bellyaching. They don’t tell us that we have a choice. I can play to the crowd, or I can dance the jig of life with an internal presence — the immortal, blissful divine.
The grand rainbow came down, hit the rim, bounced up and away.
So what? As I've said, the line is marching on: we come down, hit life’s stage, rise up, do our thing and away! Perspective is everything.
Illustration by Sara Shaffer.