In the words of Dr. Seuss “Un-slumping yourself is not easily done.”
Slump – verb slumped, slumping – To fall or sink suddenly; sag or slouch: slumps A sudden fall or decline. The baseball player went into a slump and struck out 8 times in a row.
We have been playing little league baseball this fall. Well some of us have. Max and Zach are on the same team, the Reds, this year because of their close age. We thought this was a wonderful idea and it has been. There’s less scheduling and less hassle. It’s just more efficient to be on the same team, with the same practices and the same schedule (we were on two different teams last fall). Things were trucking right along. We met the coaches. We met the other parents. The boys got along great and the games began. Max and Zach did well in practice. As the games began a few months ago we all seemed to be having a fine time, until as Max likes to call it (cue the sound effects), “dah, dah, dah… the slump.” It happened suddenly and without warning. It snuck up on us all. One game Max was hitting the ball and then he wasn’t. There was on one single cause, one time he swung too late, one time too early, one time he was too close to the plate, another too far, one time he lifted his head, once he had more of a golf swing than a baseball swing. It’s enough to make a mom go crazy, I tell you. In the middle of Max’s slump, Zach hit a homerun. Through it all it was amazing to watch Max wrestle with, in the car one day he said, “Mom, I’m in a slump!” “Yep,” I said, “what are you gonna do about it?” “Well,” he said, “unslumping is tough, but I know I can and I believe.” Each week he went to practices and games and gave it his best shot. Never getting mad, never envying Zach for his hits, doubles and even the home run. Max kept his head in the game and kept believing. One coach in particular kept encouraging him, “you can do it Max. I know you can.”
And then as soon as it came, it left. This past Tuesday, it happened. We were playing the undefeated Lookouts (named for the Chattanooga, Tennessee minor league team). Max got a hit and off he ran to first base. There was jumping, screaming, cheering, his coach who was pitching came off the mound to congratulate Max (it’s machine pitch, with your own coach loading the pitching machine). It was a moment.
It got me thinking about my own life, about my slumps and about how I get stuck. It creeps up slowly sometimes and in others almost instantly. We think to ourselves, “what in the world have I gotten myself into and how can I get out of this.” Sometimes, that is just it. We cannot. I cannot. I need help. Max needed help, he needed practice, a different stance, a different swing. He needed to listen to advice from his coaches and he needed to keep his eye on the ball. When he stepped up to the plate, he didn’t need to be thinking about all the changes he was making. He needed to naturally trust that he was gonna hit the ball! Most of all he needed to believe he could do it! Ok, I get it. If I were honest, I get it sometimes. I cannot do this on my own. I do need help.
I’m not even sure how to describe my slumps or how to prescribe what is needed, but there are days when I feel a decline, a fall, a sag or a slouch. As Dr. Suess said in “Oh the Places You’ll Go”, “And when you’re in a Slump, you’re not in for much fun. Un-slumping yourself is not easily done.
Last night, I was leaving baseball practice, when my cell phone rang. I had forgotten about my book club meeting. It was my turn to bring snacks and, Ugh, I forgot. My friend was calling to say, “hey where are you? We are hungry!” So after a mad dash through the grocery store, I was climbing out of the car with my hands full of sacks of snacks. I was late, I was stressed and my slump had found me again. I wanted to put my pajamas on and go to sleep. As I was climbing out of the car, Zach looked at me with his sweet face and said., “Mom, don’t be embarrassed. It happens. They are you’re friends!” Ok; everyone gets in a slump. Everyone gets bogged down. Everyone gets stuck, forgets something and falls short… everyone.
Some of my un-slumping happens when I go to the beach. Some of it happens when I go for a walk with a friend. Other times an unexpected call or hearing a congregation sing a hymn that’s centuries old at the top of their lungs. Sometimes it happens when I sit in my red chair and read, listen and pray.
This week I got the privilege of hearing Bishop Rueben Job speak about his book, “Three Simple Rules.” They are (1) do no harm, (2) do all the good you can and (3) stay in love with God. For years, he has modeled his life after these simple principals, beginning each day with them and reflecting each night on them. Today I did the same. I sat quietly before the boys woke up and simply opened his book. I have had the books for months, I have picked it up and turned it over. Consider this Prayer at the Beginning of the Day from Bishop Job’s “Three Simple Rules.” “Loving Teacher, come and make your home in our hearts this day. Dwell within us all day long and save us from error or foolish ways. Teach us today to do no harm, to do good, and assist us so that we may stay in loving relationship with you and our neighbor. Help us today to be an answer to another’s prayer so that we may be one of your signs of hope in the world you love.”
Maybe that’s it for me. Instead of concentrating on the slumps of my life, helping others in their slumps, reaching out, cheering for others. I need to keep playing, keep being involved and keep believing. Please know that you are not alone and keep believing that you are amazing. When I turn my attention off of myself and turned toward others, it somehow happens. As Dr. Suess reminds us, “You’ll move mountains. So be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O’Shea, you’re off to Great Places! Today is your day! You’re mountain is waiting. So get on your way!”
On a side note… Zach had his own slump, but pulled out as well. It happens.
Go Reds! Celia
PS Thanks to the Phillies last night for driving home my point about the possibility of unslumping yourself after a 28 year drought.