Day 259 – Soccer in Samsara
If you want to experience an obvious case of living in Samsara, volunteer at a kids’ soccer club tournament, or any sports tournament involving kids and parents. You’ll find yourself in the thick of it.
I spent my weekend doing just this, which was a great opportunity for me to see how far down the path of enlightenment I’ve come (a speck of dust on the path :)) as well as how good it has been for me to begin wishing again in order to change direction and follow my dreams.
There were kids that just wanted to play the game. Some of them won their games, some of them lost. There were kids that just wanted to win. Some of them won their games, some of them lost. There were parents hedging their kids’ scholarship bets on their kids’ performances. They just wanted their kids to win. There were parents living vicariously through their children to make up for lost childhoods. They just wanted their kids to win. There were parents who were there to support their children, as good parents do. They were supportive of their children whether they won or lost.
There was pressure. There was disappointment. There was happiness. There were some tears, I’m sure. Through it all, who suffered most? The child playing or the parent watching?
It was a study in attachment that’s for sure, whether it was parental attachment or child attachment. And there were definitely a lot of lost souls out there. Lost souls of the children who never feel good enough. Lost souls of the children who are told they are never good enough. Lost souls of the children who are shown they are never good enough. Lost souls of the parents who have lost themselves in their children. Lost souls of the parents trying to establish their identity through the support they show their children. Lost souls of the teams that never win. Lost souls of those wrapped up in Samsara instead of living in the present moment.
I spoke to several parents, all of whom admitted to me that they were unhappy in their current employment, but were unsure what they wanted to do. They knew what they didn’t want to do, but had no idea what they did want to do. They felt old and confused with no time to start again. They had spent so long doing what they thought they should do, or what they believed was the best way to live that they had ignored the most important thing in their lives – themselves. And yet, many were continuing to do a great job of showing their children that they still hadn’t figured out that the only person that can make them happy is themselves, by taking the tournament so seriously that you’d think it was a World Cup final!
I felt sad for these children whose parents so obviously followed them around from tournament to tournament, living their lost and unrealized dreams through a soccer field and mini-van trips around the regions – perpetuating the dissatisfaction each generation can face after a lifetime of facing away from themselves and their true desires.
What impressed me the most were the parents who didn’t care if their children won or lost, and who tried to pass on this philosophy to their children – some of whom accepted this lesson and some of whom didn’t, as is often the case. At the end of the tournament when the medals were or weren’t handed out, these kids tended to be the ones that walked away happiest. They were happy for the simple fact that they enjoyed the game. They were present for the tackles, the refs calls, the goals or near misses. They were there for the congratulations they received from their happy and often consolatory parents and coaches, even when the scores were 12-0. They were there for the comradery with their team mates and friends, and the sheer fun of a weekend packed full of activity and socializing.
Ultimately, everyone would love to win, to be great at what they do. Everyone would love to be the champions. Everyone would love to leave the tournament happy. But my belief is that no matter if they left winners or losers, or how they felt about the end result, the true winners to leave the tournament were those who lived it, breathed it and left accepting things as they really are.
For the kids and parents who taught me that this weekend, I am grateful.