“The Green Fields of the Mind” by A. Bartlett Giamatti
It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart.
The game begins in the spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings.
And then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone.
You count on it, rely on it to buffer the passage of time, to keep the memory of sunshine and high skies alive.
And then just when the days are all twilight, when you need it most, it stops.
Today, October 2, a Sunday of rain and broken branches and leaf-clogged drains and slick streets, it stopped, and summer was gone.
Somehow, the summer seemed to slip by faster this time. Maybe it wasn’t this summer, but all the summers that, in this my fortieth summer, slipped by so fast.
There comes a time when every summer will have something of autumn about it. Whatever the reason, it seemed to me that I was investing more and more in baseball, making the game do more of the work that keeps time fat and slow and lazy.
I was counting on the game’s deep patterns, three strikes, three outs, three times three innings, and its deepest impulse, to go out and back, to leave and to return home, to set the order of the day and to organize the daylight.
I wrote a few things this last summer that did not last, nothing grand but some things, and yet that work was just camouflage. The real activity was done with the radio–not the all-seeing, all-falsifying television–and was the playing of the game in the only place it will last, the enclosed green field of the mind. There, in that warm, bright place, what the old poet called Mutability does not so quickly come. …
The game breaks my heart because it was meant to, because it was meant to foster in me again the illusion that there was something abiding, some pattern and some impulse that could come together to make a reality that would resist the corrosion; and because, after it had fostered again that most hungered-for illusion, the game was meant to stop, and betray precisely what it promised.
Of course, there are those who learn after the first few times. They grow out of sports. And there are others who were born with the wisdom to know that nothing lasts. These are the truly tough among us, the ones who can live without illusion, or without even the hope of illusion.
I am not that grown-up or up-to-date. I am a simpler creature, tied to more primitive patterns and cycles. I need to think something lasts forever, and it might as well be that state of being that is a game; it might as well be that, in a green field, in the sun.
This wonderful poem begins at the 1:25 mark…Please watch if you love baseball or love the passage of time.