EVAN REN: Virus may teach us some appreciation (for a while)

“Appreciation is a wonderful thing: It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.”
— Voltaire 

There’s a barbeque place near my home that I don’t like. In fact, I seldom go there — deliberately bypassing it whenever the BBQ craving hits me in favor of better choices. 

But Friday, after two months of COVID-19 exile, I decided to make a quick run to bring home some brisket for the wife and I and elected to go to the very place I try to avoid because it was convenient. 

Funny how one’s perspective can change while in isolation.

Abilene’s worst barbeque was suddenly good. In fact, it was beyond good. It was like freakin’ nirvana. 

I suspect that’s the way it’s going to be with virtually everything I had taken for granted before the lockdown. And I’m already experiencing some of it.

Simply getting out and taking a walk through my neighborhood yesterday had a foreign feel to it. My wife and I waved at every person we saw, whether we knew them or not. I noticed the color of everyone’s home, how well-manicured their yards were, the birds, the trees, everything. 

I can’t imagine what it’s going to feel like when we’re finally able to congregate in large groups at a sporting event. But when it does happen, I hope it brings a fresh perspective to all of us.

Sports were never life and death, even though we often acted as though they were. Battling COVID-19 taught us this lesson, and demonstrated that it can all be taken away with the stroke of a pen.

I’m curious to see if that brings about some behavioral changes in us.

I’m hoping, at least for a short while, that when we all gather again, we can recognize that the opposing team, the opposing fans and the umpires aren’t much different than ourselves. And whatever petty animosity we may feel towards them should shrivel to insignificance when held under the light of the big picture. 

I hope our reunion is as special as I anticipate and I hope it spawns a new era of clearer thinking. And God knows, some of us need to adjust our thinking.

In the long run, I realize the silliness and anger from fans will return to the activities meant to teach our children teamwork, character and discipline. 

But just for a while, we might get a glimpse of something magical — a short period of time when we appreciate simply being at a game. When we not only appreciate the efforts of our own kids, but those of the other team, the coaches, and of those trying to enforce the rules. 

It won’t last. We’re too competitive for that to happen. 

But it may have a lasting impact on some of the people we want it to most: our kids. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the real reason we have athletics in the first place. 

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