I played right field in little league. I thought it was because I was loud enough that you could still hear my chatter from there. I really was pretty zealous about me, “Hey Batter, Batter.” I would even time my “Swing, Batter,” so they would follow my directions and miss the ball. As far as chatter went, I was excellent. It was years later that I was told that right field in little league was not such a pivotal role. I also heard they stopped allowing chatter. Sad.
I daydream a lot. Its a character trait, I think. I loved to imagine being the hero. I would imagine a hit, running the bases. I liked the drama of an overthrow as I ran to the next plate. The base coach urging me on as I rounded second into third base. What’s this? Another overthrow? I round third. Arms pumping, chest heaving, heart pounding. I sense the throw as I dive into home plate. The sound of the ball in the glove, the dirt clears, the umpire spreads his arms and yells, “SAFE.”
What a great feeling that would be. I see the faces. I see my teammates declaring that, “You are safe.” I see the crowd jumping from their seats declaring, “Safe, Safe, he was safe.”
I like that word, “Safe.” As I went through my divorce, my ex would tell me she didn’t feel safe around me. She explained that she felt emotionally unsafe and vulnerable. I am not sure I understood it completely. I always thought of myself as safe, and easy to talk to. I never really thought I could be someone who another person felt unsafe around. It dug deep. In 22 years of knowing my ex, the two worst things she said about me was that she didn’t feel intimate to me anymore and this.
Recently, I was told I was “Safe”. It was different then how I used to think about it. For 22 years I was under the impression that safe was contingent on agreement. I thought that in order to have the umpire spread his arms, and for the crowd to leap, I needed to agree or comply or perform in a certain way. However, this time it was actually when we didn’t agree about something that I was told that I was safe. It was because I listened and considered and didn’t take it personally. The team mate hollered, “You are safe.” It wasn’t because I said the right thing, or agreed, or complied, or performed. It was because I stayed in the game. It was because I didn’t wonder off into left field after rounding second. I didn’t panic at being left alone when my heart pounded. It was because I didn’t worry about isolation and the cold shoulder when my breath heaved. It was because I stayed in the game.
However, it took the team mate to also be trustworthy. It took the desire to relate. It took the understanding that we are different and are sharing a journey, not an opinion. It took celebrating the home base win. It took sharing the safety.
I sure like that word.