108 years. Auspicious for any of us that may know the connection in spiritual circles.
108 years since the Cubs won a World Series Championship. There’s been a curse and years of drought. My grandmother was a die-hard Cubbies fan. My father often told the story of how he was visiting her in the nursing home after breaking her hip. They were watching a Cubs game together. She was red hot mad(because they were losing) and told dad to “turn the damn t.v off” and go home so she could rest. He was a good son so he turned off the game and headed home. The phone was ringing when he walked in the door. It was the nursing home saying grandma has passed after he left.
Dad only watched Cubs games. In the last years of his life after mom had died, and he was almost completely deaf, he would still watch the games with the sound off and the closed captions moving across the screen below the image of the baseball diamond. Once the regular season was over, that was it. He’d say, “What’s the point? I don’t care about the play-offs if the Cubbies aren’t in it.”
I’m still in shock. I can’t imagine how he would be feeling right now. I haven’t watched that many world series games over the years; never all seven. By the final game I new the names of every man on the roster, who was warming up in the bull-pen, what a check swing looked like and what made up the “strike zone”. It helps to live with a die-hard Yankees fan who I am schooled by during the regular season (if I ask), for any or all of the 162 games.
What is really staying with me since last nights final game and victory for the Cubs was the perfectly beautiful teaching of “not knowing”. In Buddhism we talk a lot about being mindful, being in the present moment, and not getting stuck in your own or someone else’s storyline. And you know what? It’s all right there in those nine innings. Or in the case of last nights seventh game, ten innings.
You should have heard the announcers, most of them retired baseball players themselves. It was stunning to listen; talk about an education. These fellas know their stuff. You want to understand pitching, listen to an retired pitcher describe how the starting pitcher throws, what are his best pitches (curve ball, cutter, change up). And the rest of the announcers giving their predictions. Cubs in six, Cubs in seven. Only one said Cleveland in seven.
The series began in Chicago with fans out of their minds with pure joy. 108 years for gosh sake and that damn curse of the billy goat. Legend has it the owner of the Billy Goat Tavern in Chicago was asked to leave a game being played at Wrigley Field in 1945 because he stank of his pet billy goat, “Murphy”. And so it began.
There was no curse last night and the Cubs struck first. By the fifth inning it was Cubs up 5 to 1. And there were the announcers talking about the Cleveland team as if it already was in the past. And I kept thinking, “Don’t go getting comfortable, that’s not the kind of team Cleveland is.” I remember saying to my partner, “You think it’s over?” “Oh yea”, he answered with a fair amount of confidence. But I was sure, it’s not over, anything can happen. I realized I tend to be the kind of person that is more ready for something out of the ordinary to happen as opposed to the same thing always happening. I think that’s a good thing except when I’m wanting things to change/be different/keep moving…out of, I don’t know, boredom or routine or just simply wanting things to be different.
And sure enough, they tied the game, 6 to 6. And now it’s the end of the ninth inning and it starts to rain. A seventeen minute rain delay and the Cubs come back to score two more runs. I was pacing. I asked my partner not to say anything, he was making me nervous. And then the third out happens, the game is over, the Cubs have won the WORLD SERIES and the players are jumping up and down and crying and laughing and hugging one another.
What a beautiful scene and I just kept thinking, “this is it!” This is exactly what life looks like every single day. Even when we think we have all the statistics, the history, the correct recipe for a win or loose scenario there is not one thing that is really going to tell you the outcome accept for watching each moment as it unfolds. Being in each moment. Causes and conditions and not just the things that are visible to the naked eye. No. Causes and conditions usually refer to and include everything that has come before that may (or may not) be related to what is taking place in each moment.
Everything affects everything else. My smile effects the world. My words, negative or positive have a warming or chilling affect. The love and warmth I share with my partner is generated for all sentient beings. The fierceness I feel for my grown sons spread far to other mothers and their sons (and daughters). How I treat a brother I haven’t seen in five years and just ended a thirty year marriage matters and the care and tenderness I feel for his situation ripples out to all those with a broken heart. The way I love my pained dog who’s been limping around with a torn ACL is generating deep connection and companionship for other four leggeds.
The four vows of the bodhisattva in the lineage I practice go like this:
Creations are numberless, I vow to free them.
Delusions are inexhaustible, I vow to transform them.
Reality is boundless, I vow to perceive it.
The Awakened way is unsurpassable, I vow to embody it.
A seemingly tall order for sure and yet, these aren’t commandments that, if not followed every instant, one will be struck down or punished. It is a guide for a way of living that includes everyone and everything.
There were at least 108 causes and conditions that came together last night in Cleveland that allowed the Cubs to win the World Series, (and probably at least another 108,000 more). Can we know what’s about to happen based on the facts/what we know/what we’ve studied/what we’ve been told? The announcer’s had no idea Rajai Davis would hit a 2 run homerun in the bottom of the eighth inning to tie the game. Not expecting the unexpected because you think, “I’ve got this. I know what this is about.”
Impermanence and interdependence: we are all inextricably tied together in the depths of our cells. Carl Sagan says, “If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you first have to invent the universe.”Did the Cubs “know” they were going to win game seven and bring home the World Series trophy? Maybe. Or maybe they just play the game with heart and soul and a mindset of joy. They play for the fans, bringing their emotion, physical ability, determination, focus and commitment. And maybe, all those ingredients came bubbling, churning and rising up, just waiting for that perfect moment to come together as the first baseman, Rizzo made the final catch for out #3.
May this joy and ecstasy reverberate throughout the world to everyone.