The National Pastime as a Resource for Resilience

The National Pastime as a Resource for Resilience

I’ve dedicated this post on Resources for Recovering Resilience to experiential exercises: Hand on the Heart; Carry Love and Appreciation in Your Wallet; Repairing a Rupture. Learning from experience is how the brain rewires itself the best. Learning involves not just encoding new strategies of resilience in the brain, but strengthening the functioning of the brain itself to better do the rewiring.

This post is a departure, finding role models of resilience in my favorite film genre: Triumph Over Adversity on Behalf of a Noble Cause. (Not yet a category in Netflix) Besides the many classics that could be recommended – African Queen, Invictus, Billy Elliott, Stand and Deliver, A Man for All Seasons, today I’m recommending a specific film series: the Ken Burns series on Baseball.

Why the national pastime? As the series makes clear: “Baseball isn’t about winning; it’s about losing.” And using the losing to cultivate resilience. Batters get a hit one third of the time. Teams like my home team, the San Francisco Giants, can wait more than 50 years (1954-2010) to play in the World Series, then win twice in three years (2010, 2012).

There are many moments in the series, told in Ken Burns’ inimitably human and poignant style, of people being struck out, again and again, to come to bat, again and again. And the generous focus on the determination of minorities and women to insist on their own skill and joy in playing the game provides stellar role models of resilience throughout.

You may be watching your own home teams play ball this spring; you may indulge in the national pastime through television or the evening news. I encourage you to check the series Baseball out of your local library or order it through PBS. The stories will lift your heart and spirit.

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