This is a song performed by Kenny Rogers, although I am not sure if he wrote it or not. It is called The Greatest and I found it on a friend’s Facebook Wall but it is on YouTube. Any parent that listens to this song will agree, it captures the essence of childhood.
What a shame that the song does not remind us of ourselves.
Essentially the song is about a little boy, ten-ish, with a bat and a ball standing in a baseball field alone. His glove lays in front of him. He closes his eyes and imagines himself standing at home plate in front of cheering and adoring crowds. The game is on the line. He is at bat. He is The Greatest.
He throws the ball straight up, takes a swing, and misses. Strike one. He closes his eyes, hears the cheers of the crowd, throws the ball up, and misses again. Strike two. He looks at the bat and concentrates. He throws the ball up and with a mighty swing, misses again. Strike three. Still, the crowd cheers, or at least, most of them.
Just then his mother calls him home for dinner. He sits at the table and says, “I am the greatest, that is a fact, but even I didn’t know, I could pitch like that. He says I am the greatest, that is understood, but even I didn’t know, I could pitch that good.”
The message is undeniable.
Zachary was just like that as a child and never really lost that essence. I remember one time in particular. I was in New Mexico and he was about 11 years old. He called me and said; “Dad, I scored the winning points in our basketball game today!” Excited by the news I asked “How much time was left on the clock when you scored? A second?” I could hear all the other parents cheering, and if I was there, slapping me on the back, telling me what a clutch shooter I had for a son, how poised he was, a real go-to guy.
Well, that is not exactly how it went down. It seems he scored the first basket of the game and missed all the rest of his shots. They won by two points though, like 14 – 12, but in his mind, his basket won the game, which, in a way, it did.
I really do not know when I lost that point of view, that way of looking at myself, my life and my performances. Why, for example, do I not consider myself as lucky for having, for 21 years, The Greatest of sons. Why do I grieve and fear the future instead of celebrating everything I have been given? Why can’t I look at life through the eyes of a child?
When did I switch from child to adult? Maybe there isn’t a single point in time where our mind’s eye switches from finding the good to emphasizing the bad, the negative, the hurt. Maybe it’s a result of the passage of time, the disappointments, the heartaches, the losses. It could be an accumulation of the garbage of life, the grand parade of pain. A slow metamorphosis. An evolution of thought. A phobia of seeing the good.
If I were that little boy with the bat or Zachary after his basketball game, I’d look at Zack’s death and say: “He gave me 21 wonderful years. He is everywhere I am precisely because every movie, sporting event, car, book and thought reminds me of him. He is here, right now, and I thank him for that.”
But I don’t. I cringe at the reminders and cry at the memories.
I need the eyes of a child.
To the eyes of a child, a parent is perfect, life just comes, and nothing is exceptionally negative. To the eyes of a child one never strikes out, one never goes one for ten, one never disappoints. To the eyes of a child a kitchen pot is a play thing, a snow flake something of wonder, and rain, the maker of mud and puddles. To the eyes of a child life is perfect, and good and fulfilling and nothing, nothing is lacking. To the eyes of a child, sunrise brings new and exciting possibilities and sunset, much-needed rest.
To the eyes of a child, I must look a mess.
Today marks the 7 calendar month anniversary of Zack’s murder. And all I need is one minute, a brief moment in time, to look at this like a child. Maybe, just maybe, then I would understand it.
Crack! Homerun! Get your popcorn here!
Nice Shot, Zack!