Clemens, at the tail end of his pitching career, negotiated a contract where he only played in home games.
That way, he could drive to work and not go on the road. No coping with changing time zones or climates, no dealing with the rigors of travel, and no working through the idiosyncrasies of other ballparks and their moronic, hateful fans. Houston or bust.
This sounds like an extreme contractual demand, but then again, if you’re the most dominant pitcher in the history of baseball, you can pretty much do whatever you want.
The rest of us civilians are not so lucky. We don’t always have the luxury of the home field advantage in the game of life. It would be lovely if our biological cycles were perfectly in tune with our surroundings at all times, but in many cases, we have to train ourselves to play well on the road.
Meaning, on other people’s turf. Where the odds are stacked against our favor.
Talk about a tough crowd.
Submitting ourselves to the ways and whims of other people’s terms and needs and rituals, that really requires you to be a good sport.
That phrase is deeply meaningful to me. Being a good sport is something that many of my family members have modeled exquisitely. And the older I get, the more useful that skill seems to become.
Because when you don’t have home field advantage, you have to be flexible. You have suck it up and play along. To take one for the team, as athletes say. To surrender some of your own preferences to help elevate the entire group.
And there’s a certain amount of people pleasing involved, but not in an anxiety ridden or conflict avoidant way.
This type of relational compromise comes from a place of love.
You’re not giving up who you are, you’re aligning what you do with the highest version of the person you are committed to being, while identifying and adjusting your perceptions to support a fuller view of reality.
You’re not foregoing your values, you are respecting different perspectives and preferences.
Campbell, the patron saint of modern mythology, even he admits that it’s easier to stay home, stay in the womb and not take the journey. But then life can dry up because you’re not off on your own adventure.
Point being, it’s still possible to throw strikes when you’re not playing on your home turf.
But human relationships are the only game in town, and sometimes you just have to be a good sport.
The fans might be insulting, the weather might suck, the mound may be lumpy and the umpires might be unfair.
What if your flexibility was a form of generosity?