Sunday, May 22, 2011

I Give Up! (aka That's IT! I'm breaking up with you, Mets!)

Maxim/Getty Images
I'm watching the New York Mets get hammered by the New York Yankees, and my heart is breaking.  I've loved the Mets since I was a kid.  I have five brothers, and I have fond memories of watching Mets games with them, playing wiffleball in the park, and of them trying to teach me how to play sports despite the fact that I was a girl and deathly afraid of getting hit in the face by a ball.

My love for the Mets grew when I was a teenager.  Keith Hernandez and Ron Darling were my darlings; I thought they were so dreamy.  The 1986 World Series was an amazing experience; the Mets really were "The Amazin's" that year.  My favorite song that year was: "We've got the teamwork, to make the dream work, let's go, LET'S GO METS!"  I'd listen to baseball games on the radio while doing homework, and I'd watch whenever it was on television.

Then the abuse began.  Little by little, the players I'd known were traded or moved into coaching positions, and I broke up with them for the first time when Daryl Strawberry was traded.  Don't ask me the details, and yes I know he loved him some drugs.  But for me, he was the embodiment of the Mets' magic.  Watching him play baseball drew me in and kept me riveted.  When he was gone, the magic was gone for me.

Many years passed, and I moved on.  But a few years ago, Jose Reyes came into my life.  He became my new Daryl Strawberry, Keith Hernandez, and Ron Darling all rolled into one.  He played with the "oomph" of Daryl, was a leader like Keith, and smooth as heck like Ron.  From about 2007 to 2009, watching the Mets was exciting and reminiscent of the 80's, and I was falling in love all over again.  Then, with injuries to leaders such as Reyes and Carlos Beltran in the 2009 season, the Mets started abusing me again.  I'll start off excited about baseball season, start watching for a bit, then the Mets break my heart and I stay away.  Today's one of those days.  The Mets were up 3-1 when I turned the game on in the 3rd inning, and they kept that lead until the 7th inning. I had some hope, but somehow I knew they would let me down.  Sure enough, the Yankees scored EIGHT (8) (ocho) runs in the bottom of the 7th, and the Mets lost 9-3.

I can't.  Every season when these huge losses happen, I tell myself I can't continue loving this team.  However, I know that I'll forget, and next season I'll be excited again, I'll be nostalgic for my childhood team, and I'll want to watch.  And as long as Jose Reyes is on the team (doesn't seem like it will be much longer), I'll feel compelled to watch.

My love affair with the Mets reminds me of romantic relationships.  We get into relationships hoping that this time, we'll win the championship.  We have expectations, rules, standards, and boundaries of this new person we are allowing into our lives.  Sometimes we overlook certain negative traits because, overall, this new person is bringing some "oomph" into our lives.  He (or she) brings the magic, like Daryl or Jose did for me.  But eventually, we start to see that this new person may not meet our expectations or standards.  He may not fit into the intended outcome for our lives.  When the relationship is drawing to a close, we may feel as if our hearts are being ripped out and stomped on.  At this moment, we tell ourselves "I won't put myself through that again."

Maybe I'm just talking about myself, so I'll write in the first person.  There have been a few men in my life who have walked in, completely stomped on my heart, walked out, and tried to walk back in.  After healing from heartbreak and learning whatever needed to be learned, I've allowed them back in.  People constantly tell me that I shouldn't, mainly because they're concerned that I'll get hurt again, and God bless them for caring so much about me.  However, I think that the reason I let people back into my life after they've hurt me is because I continually learn that my expectations were a huge part of the reason the relationship didn't work out.  Truthfully, I've broken up with most of the men I've dated because they did something I didn't like, or they didn't meet my expectations.  My desire to control the outcome of the relationship led me to break up with them, then I would cry because I missed them and felt hurt and heartbroken.  Now I see them as human beings, just like me, who aren't perfect and make mistakes.  Just because we didn't live happily ever after doesn't mean they were bad people.

When it comes to relationships, we're all dealing with past hurts - ALL of us.  In the past few years, I've come to understand that men are not intentionally hurting me.  They're just not meeting my expectations.  So maybe I need to give up those expectations and learn to enjoy each relationship for what it is teaching me about myself.

The past two years are a perfect example.  My most recent deliverer of "oomph" was my first boyfriend ever at the age of 12 (who also happens to love the Mets, by the way).  We reconnected two years ago and started dating.  It didn't work out as I'd hoped; he didn't meet my expectations, had his own issues, no one thought he deserved me, and I pushed him away repeatedly.  However, I've come to realize that, primarily because of how he's challenged me in our time together, I've grown personally, creatively, emotionally, and professionally in the past two years.  I've become a much better version of myself; more open to others, less judgmental, more loving, and more expressive of that love.  I even tell my mother I love her when I see her, which is not a part of our upbringing.  So, could it be that this person played a role in my growth without meeting a single expectation of mine? "Amazin'"-ly, yes.

Right now, the Mets have broken my heart.  But I'll be nostalgic for the "Amazin's" again eventually, even if they're not so "Amazin'".

Monday, May 9, 2011

Resistance Is Futile (Get Comfortable with Change!)

By Hugh MacLeod
About two weeks ago, I bought a new laptop.  My old laptop has been hangin' tough with me for almost eight years.  It never crashed, I never lost anything I'd written, it never got a crazy virus that wiped out my hard drive, nothing.  Granted, I am pretty careful about downloading and I barely used it for more than online surfing and creating documents, but in eight years, I cannot say I'd had any major problems with it.

But I needed a new laptop.  The old one just didn't have enough memory to even watch a video.  I couldn't download new programs or update my old ones.  I asked my nephew, who is about to graduate with a master's degree in computer science, to take a look at it and help me pick out a new laptop.  He said, simply, that my old laptop just didn't have enough memory.  It wasn't that I had put so much stuff on it that slowed it down, it just wasn't capable of giving me what I needed at this time.

I gave in, and bought a new laptop.  I'm using it right now.  But this laptop...well, although my nephew assured me it was a pretty good laptop, and all of the reviews were positive, so many people who had previously bought this brand did not like it at all.  People told me stories of how quickly the battery dies, how hot the laptop gets, how it crashed within a short time after they purchased it.  There were so many opinions about this laptop that, every time I turn it on or use it for more than an hour, I get a little anxious.  I haven't truly enjoyed my new laptop.  I keep wondering when it's going to "go" on me, or what will happen if I download iTunes, or if I'm not understanding how to use it, and will it break because I don't completely understand it yet.

The new laptop doesn't have any of my pictures, my music, or the books I've started to write.  It doesn't know anything about me.  Sometimes I have to go back to the old laptop to retrieve information.  It requires effort to plug it in, turn it on, and wait for it to start up to get what I need from it.  The new one and I are still getting to know each other, but the old one knows me, and I understand it.  But I just can't get what I need from it anymore.  Times have changed, technology has evolved, and I must change and evolve as well.

In life, as in technology, we must change; we must evolve.  In order to progress as individuals in our personal or professional lives, we have to be open to new people, ideas, circumstances, feelings, and mindsets.  Sometimes the job you've had for a long time has provided you with comfort, stability, and a good paycheck, but it's not helping you grow as a professional or providing intellectual challenges.  Sometimes the people who have been in your life the longest are easy to keep around because you know them, but they are not willing to support you, or don't listen to you, or they don't want to change or grow, much less deal with you if you're trying to change or grow.  Sometimes the thought patterns you've carried throughout your life are comfortable, but there's always an out of place thought that pops up, telling you that this isn't working, there must be something else, something more.

It's easy to remain in our comfort zones.  It's hard when people don't understand our desire to grow and to move in a different direction. It's frightening when we think we have to start all over again, that if we start a new relationship, we have to create all new memories, or if we start a new job and it doesn't work out, we've lost professional or financial stability.  We hold ourselves back when we continue to live with the fear that what's ahead of us will not work out.  But if we could understand that change is inevitable and will help us grow, we would embrace the new while appreciating the old that carried us through to our present point.  Resistance is futile.  Fighting change is like swimming against the tide, or trying to walk up the left side of a crowded New York City subway staircase.  All it does is keep you in the same place, like a hamster in a wheel, running but going nowhere.  Futile. 

This new laptop is pretty cool.  I will enjoy it for the time that I have it, and if and when I need a new one, I believe that God will make a way for me to get it, just as He made a way for me to get this one, just in time for me to start a new adventure - a doctoral program.  That's pretty much how the universe works, isn't it?