Autumn trials and joys

I have resisted the comparison of the states of life to the season. I know it is common to think of childhood as springtime, young adulthood as summertime, and the aging years as autumn. The analogies have a certain logic and I understand why the comparisons are made. On the other hand, I am personally a big fan of winter. I love the crunch of snow under my boots, the feel of a pair of skis on my feet and the challenge of survival in the harsh days. I’d much rather shovel snow than mow the lawn. I know how to bundle up against the cold. When it is too hot, you simply have to deal with it, there are limits to removing layers for comfort.

But there is more to it than just an enjoyment of the cooler weather. There is a surprise and wonder that is inherent in autumn which I greet with childlike joy.

To start with, the weather has surprised me most of this season. Here we are in November and I’m still driving around town with the windows down in my car. The mornings and evenings are chilly, but daytime highs have been remarkably warm. The urge to go outside is as strong as ever. Although most of the deciduous trees have now lost their leaves, there is still plenty of color to the world. We brought in the tomatoes from our garden a couple of weeks ago, but they continue to ripen in the basement and there are fresh tomatoes to eat every day.

And I have never witnessed a World Series like this year. The world has never seen a sporting event that matches last night’s game. When I got into the car to drive home from the church last night, the Cubs were up by three runs. They needed just four outs to clinch the series. By the time I got home, Cleveland had secured a RBI double and a home run to even the score. The scoreless ninth inning meant extra innings and then it rained. It was as if the universe was conspiring to keep us from knowing how the game would end. Finally they removed the tarps and the Cubs managed to get two runs in the bottom of the 10th. They needed both of them as Cleveland came back with one run, but the pitching held out and after a 4 1/2 hour game the series was history.

One team had to win and the other lose and if your team is going to win it seems all the better to have the losing team clearly be one of the greatest teams in the history of baseball. Had the roles been reversed, it would have been hard to feel bad for long. It simply was a great series. Both teams are filled with young players and the prospects for next year are clearly evident.

I am so grateful for baseball’s diversion from the American political scene. And I’m not the only one.

Politics may leave me feeling tired and old, but baseball has the opposite effect on me this year.

And I’m not really a sports fan. I enjoy watching games, but my home isn’t filled with sports memorabilia. I don’t have a baseball collection. We don’t have a large screen television. I don’t stay home to watch the game. I don’t have any sports jerseys in my closet. I haven’t spent my vacations visiting stadiums around the country. I’ve only watched a handful of live major league games over the span of my life. I know lots of people who are way more into the game than I. But I am grateful for baseball this year.

After all it is no ordinary year. And the surprises are worth the wait.

So I want to go on record, before next week’s voting, with my conviction that this election will not bring the end of the world. I’m not thinking doom and gloom when I anticipate the post-election season. Regardless of which candidate wins, American democracy is a robust institution with many safeguards. The conflicts and controversies won’t go away, but we have the capacity to return civil conversation to our national sphere. It seems possible that in the midst of all of the mudslinging, name calling, and other unbecoming behavior of the campaign season there are people of good will on both sides. Despite the tensions and accusations I think we may even have learned to listen a bit more carefully to those with whom we disagree.

Just as neither candidate is the end of the world, I also want to assert that neither is the savior of the world. I have a definite religious position on that particular item. The greatness of our country comes, in part, from the ability of minorities to be heard. Losing an election doesn’t mean your point of view is discarded. The national conversation following this election must take into consideration the needs and wants of the people who have rallied around both candidates.

If we are lucky, the candidates will learn a lesson from baseball. I’m a big Cubs fan, but I don’t dislike Cleveland fans. I admire their team. They produced a truly great team this year and they came so close to winning the World Series that they have to be proud of their efforts. After all, just last year the series’ most valuable player, Ben Zobrist, was playing for the Kansas City Royals. Things change in Baseball. They change in politics, too.

One World Series game doesn’t erase 108 years of losing with some pretty lousy teams. But it does put things into perspective. I woke up this morning on the day after and I’ll be going to work and living my life as best as I am able. Life goes on and I’m glad that it does.

Perhaps I am living in the autumn of my life. If so, I know that winter is coming and I’ve always loved winter.

Copyright (c) 2016 by Ted E. Huffman. I wrote this. If you would like to share it, please direct your friends to my web site. If you'd like permission to copy, please send me an email. Thanks!