They are relentless. Or, at least they used to be. “Can we play pickle?” Every day after practice, this was the question. In other words, “Can we run back and forth between two bases and get extremely filthy while trying to avoid being tagged out?” I’ll be honest. At first, it annoyed me. They were just goofing off, I thought. In the end, however, “Can we play pickle?” turned out to be another great lesson I learned from 9-year-old baseball players.
The essence of Pickle is summed up in two words, “play” and “fun.” Based upon a variety of responsibilities, those two words seldom enter my vocabulary (perhaps you’re the same). Therefore, when I think of something like Pickle for the sheer purpose of play or fun, I don’t see the point. But that really is the point: there’s no point. It’s just play and it’s just fun. Somewhere along the line, we adults “grow out” of this. Shame.
If you watch our guys play Pickle, you would want to join in. You would see something pure, something innocent, something lost on most of the grown-up world.
As I’ve thought about it, there are three reasons why I believe adults refuse themselves opportunities for play or fun.
First, it seems unnecessary. Really, what’s the point of it? Practice is over. Let’s go home. You don’t need to play Pickle today. It’s not helping to improve your skills. You’re just goofing around. Yes, I said those words to myself and aloud. And I feel the same way about most everything I do for “fun.” I don’t need it. I’ll be ok without it. I would imagine many other adults feel the same way. We deny ourselves the opportunity to take a break from the stress of living because such “fun” isn’t necessary. How stupid we are.
Second, it seems unproductive. Our team has a saying, “If you can’t catch and throw, you can’t play.” It’s simple, really. Baseball players must be able to catch the ball and throw the ball. Otherwise, the game is impossible. Pickle is chaotic, uncontrolled, and seemingly unproductive. That’s what I first thought, and that’s what many of us think about our own play and fun. It’s not helping me. It’s not moving me forward. It’s not improving my skills, business, or whatever. Why would I want to waste time doing something so unproductive?
Third, it seems irresponsible. This is the big one for me. If a person has time for all that fun and play, it’s evidence of slacking on basic responsibilities. Those of us whose noses are always to the grindstone–we are the truly responsible ones. Take time off? You don’t know what would happen if I did that. Literally, the world would end. I can’t be responsible for that.
But, what if I’m wrong? What if those 9-year-old guys are on to something? What if we aren’t supposed to grow out of all of this fun and play?
What if the very reasons we refuse ourselves fun and play are the reasons we need it in the first place?
What if we need to have fun because it’s unnecessary? What if it’s more necessary to our overall health than we imagine?
What if we need to play because it’s unproductive? What if it is actually the most productive thing we can do?
What if we need to play and have fun because it’s irresponsible. What if we’re overvaluing our own importance to world security?
If I may, three suggestions to help us have a little more fun, to play, to enjoy ourselves.
1. Dig up that old hobby you really got into years ago. That activity in which you could lose yourself for hours. This week, spend 30 minutes rekindling your love for it.
2. Let someone else do something you’re typically responsible for. Better yet, let it drop altogether. Then, go outside and prepare for the end of the world. Or not.
3. Waste time on something. Make it something other than social media (quick hint: that approval, attention, and applause you’re seeking from incessantly living your life in a public medium…it’s killing you). Waste time playing Pickle, reading about something that has nothing to do with your job, or taking a vacation you’ve always wanted to take. You know what it is for you.
Do something you don’t need to do, something that won’t get you anywhere, something outside your normal responsibilities.
“Can we play Pickle?” Yes, guys, you certainly can. You don’t even have to ask. Thanks for teaching me why I need to do the same.
This is the eigth post in a series called “Everything I Needed to Know I Learned from 9-Year-Old Baseball Players.” For the rest of the series, see the Game Notes page.