By Murray Lewis
For those among you for whom any mention of baseball functions much as a sleeping pill might, I should mention now that while the following contains references to baseball, that’s not the real subject of this month’s letter. So please don’t go away—the important bit will be along shortly.
For more than a decade, I was the catcher for the Brewers, one of six teams in a local softball league. Just after the 2005 season ended, three of the discs in my lower back decided that they’d had enough and gave up on me. I was an invalid for months afterwards, but by the spring of 2006, I was up and about, more or less. At one of our monthly get-togethers, I asked my doctor if I’d be able to play in the coming season. He shook his head. When I pointed out that it was softball, for older fellows, in a league with the unofficial motto “We all have to go to work on Monday,” he laughed and said, “Oh! Sure, if you feel up to it.”
I played for many more years, but for someone with a wonky back, catcher is not the ideal position. Nevertheless, since we had someone more able (agile, athletic…you know, competent) than I for every other position, I soldiered on behind the plate—until my body said, “Look, would you just stop this nonsense?” I ignored my body for as long as I could, but it can be very persuasive, and I finally had to tell the Brewers that I would be retiring from the game. I was more than a bit emotional about it. My team responded by insisting that I keep coming to games and made me the team scorekeeper (not an official position) and (honorary) captain. And for the past few years, I’ve been on the bench with the rest of my team throughout every summer. (Hang on, we’re getting to the point.)
After a couple of years, I began to feel a bit embarrassed about the whole thing. No other team has an honorary captain/scorekeeper on the bench, and I began to wonder if—though no one ever said anything—I was in the way. Nevertheless, when the real team captain sent out the annual e-mail this past spring to ask who was coming back for another season, I replied that, if it was all right, I’d like to—and it felt like taking a risk. He replied, “I wouldn’t have it any other way.” I’ll be grateful to him and the Brewers for the rest of my life.
Last summer, one of the biweekly Good Times newsletters (if you haven’t signed up to get it, please do—it’s free!) included an article entitled, “Loneliness Is Very Bad for Your Health.” There we reported the news of a study that showed that loneliness is a major health risk—a greater risk than obesity. The article, in which one expert said that loneliness and social isolation should be treated as a serious public health hazard, also notes that, according to Statistics Canada, one in four Canadians lives alone. That article is one of the reasons (that and remembering the fellowship and fun I experience as a Brewer) why I sent the e-mail asking if I could come back for another year.
If you live alone and haven’t yet found something like my team, take a risk. Reach out. I promise you: you’ll be glad you did.
Murray Lewis, Editor-in-Chief