Sunday, 05 March 2017 12:39

Lessons learned through activities we love

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Every person has their own unique interests. All of us think we are more diverse in our likes than those around us. The irony of that statement is lost on most.

My personal mix of interests could be combined into the most epic of weekends. In no particular order, I would sit behind home plate and watch the Baltimore Orioles; I would stand at the 50-yard line and cheer the Baltimore Ravens; I’d get the closest seats possible to see U2 in concert, and I’d get front row tickets to a Broadway show.

Every person has their own unique interests. All of us think we are more diverse in our likes than those around us. The irony of that statement is lost on most.

My personal mix of interests could be combined into the most epic of weekends. In no particular order, I would sit behind home plate and watch the Baltimore Orioles; I would stand at the 50-yard line and cheer the Baltimore Ravens; I’d get the closest seats possible to see U2 in concert, and I’d get front row tickets to a Broadway show.

I understand what you’re probably thinking. One of those things is not like the other. I absolutely agree and there’s nothing wrong with that.

In many ways, how we look back and recall engaging in our interests and hobbies helps us define the personal growth we make over time.

Two of my favorite U2 concerts were released on DVD and recorded less than three months apart — the first in Boston in June 2001, the second in Ireland in September the same year.

Despite the brief time frame, the performances affect me in different ways. In the first, lead singer Bono leads up to the song Kite, one of my favorites, talking about how the song is about letting go of someone you don’t want to let go of; when he sings, it feels like he’s trying to hold on. In the second concert, the emotion of the song is much different; it feels like he’s let go and is watching the eponymous kite sail away.

It was only after hearing the difference and wondering the cause that I learned the first concert occurred while Bono’s father was fighting his final battle with cancer. The second occurred days after his father’s death.

Reflecting upon that change in emotion has helped me countless times over the years. Life is a journey of joy and pain, and hearing it reflected in music has helped me better understand the journey I travel every day.

Discovering similar journeys is also one of the reasons I love live theater. A staged show is also about the change of emotion between two moments, with each feeling heightened as the actors take you from moment to moment.

One of my favorite lines and emotional moments comes from the musical The Scarlet Pimpernel. In the song Prayer, the main character sings in anguish after learning his wife betrayed one of his best friends. He vows revenge for his friend, praying, “Lord, I’ll fight my battles all alone but make me strong!”

When I first heard it, the line appealed to me. I used it as a battle cry. Pray for strength so you can overcome all obstacles. Today, I hear the prayer in a much different light. It’s a prayer I now hope would go unanswered.

While battles are inevitable, my prayers for strength now contain a different message. I now pray for the guidance and strength of others to assist me. Since first hearing the song, I’ve learned strength comes from the support of those we love who believe in us, not from excluding loved ones to face fear alone. It’s a lesson the main character also learns over the course of the show.

Maybe I should have paid more attention.

In the end, how we react to music we love, whether rock or musical theater, reveals insights that words themselves often leave uncovered. Applying those insights helps us become better people.

The same is true of sports and our reaction to the teams we love.

To explain in more detail, I need the Orioles and Ravens to win championships again. I’m sure the lessons I’ll learn from their success will be equally life altering. If not, I’m sure celebrating their success will be a worthy substitute.

Erick Rommel

Erick Rommel is a syndicated columnist for Catholic News Service.

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