Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Keep Balanced – Enjoy the Game (Peter A. Black)

Our family hadn’t been long in Canada before I became aware of Canadian hockey great, Bobby Orr. He was in his mid-twenties then and flying high in his career.
Although I didn’t take a keen interest in the game, I couldn’t miss him – his name was everywhere. The exterior of the lunch-box I bought for my first job in Canada was decorated with colourful images of Bobby in action. They were also printed all around the exterior of the thermos that came with it.
That was how I learned of his existence. And now, almost 40 years later I’ve finally taken some interest in the game, but why? It’s amazing what can happen once you’ve a grandkid who plays the game. Personally, I admit that I’m still not a red-hot fan; however, I’ll cheer when “our” team scores or wins, and pitch in an ear-splitting whistle, too.
(Hmm . . . must admit though, I was rather chuffed that our grandson's team recently came amongst the top 8 out of 70 teams in his category at a regional international Silver Stick tournament.)
Jian Ghomeshi, host of CBC Radio’s cultural talk programme Q, interviewed Orr, who recently launched his autobiographical book, Orr: My Story. Orr told of his love for the game and how he developed his hockey skills. That was through playing shinny on frozen lakes and ponds in the Parry Sound area, where he was raised. He and his buddies had fun. They enjoyed themselves. Skill growth came naturally.
When asked about the difference then and now in minor hockey, Orr said that it’s over programmed. He expressed that nowadays everything’s too highly organized and based on systems. Kids are on the road game after game and under pressure, so there’s little or no fun for them. Love for the game comes out of the fun and enjoyment of it.
We adults do have a way of spoiling fun for kids, by pushing them too hard to fulfil our own hopes and dreams – even our fantasies – through them. Perhaps you are or were a kid-pusher. It’s natural that we’d want to see our children succeed in something we consider to be a worthwhile activity and that we take seriously.
It’s also true that certain young folks need some pushing, especially the push of encouragement. However, many adult hockey players bear the battles scars of the game: missing teeth, wrecked knees, broken limbs that haven’t mended well, and neurological damage and lowered emotional thresholds from repeated concussions.

Would parents really want that for their ten-year-old? You must strike the right balance, we say; it’s not always easy, though. Let kids have fun and enjoy the game.

That said, today’s musings aren’t really about hockey or kids or kid-pushing parents; it’s about us. About life. About the gift of life and whatever prospects for good this infant year may hold. We’ve been privileged to enter and live in it, thus far.

We sometimes remark about what the years have done to someone. But what have we done to our years? Let us enjoy them.

We will encounter problems and challenges–situations that stretch us, that cause us to cringe, driving us to our knees. Some may be relatively inconsequential, while others may be extremely serious. If, in the midst of these, we can have fun and find enjoyment in simple things – in the small blessings of everyday, our living will not be in vain.
An old saying goes, “The Devil trembles when he sees the weakest saint upon his knees.”
Thank God for the privilege of prayer; it can help us keep balanced to enjoy the game.
(Bobby Orr graphics from publically available sources.)
Peter A. Black is a freelance writer in Southwestern Ontario, and is author of “Parables from the Pond” – a children's / family book: mildly educational, inspirational in orientation, character reinforcing. (Finalist -- Word Alive Press ISBN 1897373-21-X)
His inspirational column, P-Pep! appears weekly in The Guide-Advocate. His articles have appeared in 50 Plus Contact and testimony, and several newspapers in Ontario.

Peter’s current book project comprises a collection of 52 column articles.
Raise Your Gaze



Glynis said...

So many reasons I love your post, Peter. First, my son in law hails from Parry Sound and they all know Bobby Orr. Second my son in law and now grandson (Mr. T) are both goalies. I do get concerned about the 'pushing' aspect but I think they are striking a balance between pushing and making hockey fun, which makes grandma happy. Amanda, my daughter, is big on trying to keep the fun in childhood. Jason works hard on their outdoor rink so that Mr. T and his friends can enjoy the game. Even Grandma was on the ice a couple of times - that's another story, though! I know your post is not necessarily about hockey, but it kept me reading - and I, too, was not privy to the game until I married into it. But when you are a supporter, you get that way, right? That said, we really do need to focus on the simple pleasures for it is in/through them that we create the best memories. And somehow those point to God.
Oh, and the other thing - I don't think I have heard anyone say 'chuffed' in a long time. I laughed out loud! Great post, Peter!

Peter Black said...

Heh! Heh! I slipped that "chuffed" in deliberately, wondering whether it would be picked up. I'm probably a tad more interested in the game than I admit (master of the old Brit "underhelm"). You evidently have a broader family context of "Canada's game" than I. May Mr. T have a safe and successful hockey experience.
S'great to hear from you; thanks for sharing. :) ~~+~~

Kathleen Gibson said...

Peter... I'm not a hockey mom or grandmother, but I certainly resonated with your closing emphasis on finding "fun and find enjoyment in simple things – in the small blessings of everyday, our living will not be in vain."

Amen and amen. Give me the simpler life any day, and I'm happy.


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