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Using America’s pastime to find inner peace

September 20, 2019

I am a profoundly uncomfortable person. I don’t make people feel uncomfortable, and I often feel emotionally comfortable, but I struggle to be physically comfortable—especially when seated. I squirm, tap my foot, adjust and re-adjust my seat. Some people can plop themselves down anywhere and stay that way for hours. I hold a burning envy for the horizontally inclined.

It comes with some irony that my mantra for this semester is to embrace comfort. Sure, it’s healthy to push your own boundaries—getting out of one’s comfort zone, actively seeking “type II fun”—but after 19 years of existence, there’s nothing I want more than to be at rest and at peace. I want comfort.

Busyness is a defining feature of mine. I enjoy relaxation, but I have internalized the notion that relaxation needs to be bookended by activity. I have realized that relaxation with the intention of finishing tasks afterward isn’t actually relaxing. I think back to my mantra: embrace comfort. Embracing comfort means embracing relaxation. It took me 19 years to realize I need to be intentional about having time to rest rather than treating rest as a means of filling time.

So, as a part of my multi-step program to becoming a less anxious and more peaceful human (thoroughly assisted by therapy and prescribed medication), I have made an effort to immerse myself in the rituals and activities that have brought me comfort in the past. Thus, I have re-discovered a common therapeutic exercise that has been utilized by depressed people throughout the Americas and parts of East Asia—watching baseball.

From 2008 to 2011, I watched enough baseball to last a lifetime. I am a New York Yankees fan, through thick and thin. During the 2009 season—the one where they ended up winning the World Series—I watched every single game. My bedtime was 9:30 p.m., so my parents would drag me away from the television around the sixth or seventh inning, and I’d finish the game by listening on my clock radio. I’d cry when they lost.

I started watching baseball again at the beginning of this summer. Without delving into too much detail, I was a bit of an emotional wreck at this point in my life. I quit my job and got dumped within the span of roughly two weeks. Although the aforementioned relationship was salvaged, the pain of a break up with someone I love so intensely lingered. Watching baseball became an outlet of self-care.

I understand the criticism many people hold against baseball: it’s slow and boring, most of the time the players on the field just stand there and many of the fans are pretentious nerds who are way too uptight about statistics. These feelings are valid! Nobody on Earth should give a shit about on-base plus slugging (OPS), but for me, the comfort I find through watching baseball is unrivaled.

This season is a particularly excellent time to be a Yankees fan. The Yankees aren’t just an incredible team, but a team that has overcome incredible adversity. The 2019 Yankees have sent more players to the Injured List (IL) than any team in Major League Baseball history—a record 29 players. In the same year, they are in a neck-and-neck competition with the Minnesota Twins to set the record for most home runs hit in a single season. They lead the American League East and look more than capable of winning the World Series.

The ritual of watching baseball is one of finding comfort through escapism. An issue I’ve faced my whole life is my inability to shift my focus when I’m fixated on something that’s stressing me out. I go into shutdown mode and obsess about whatever problem is on my mind until it has been dealt with. Scheduling time out of my day to sit down, drop what I’m doing for at least an hour and watch baseball is my way of putting an emphasis on relaxation. I turn notifications off on my phone, close whatever browser my readings are in and fade into a deep focus on the game. For a brief period of time—162 (or more!) days out of the year—I find myself at peace.

The end goal of embracing what brings me momentary escapism is to foster comfort within myself. After immersing myself in a game, whether the Yankees win or lose, I am more grounded and tranquil. I’ve been able to greatly appreciate these feelings recently, which reflects onto my mood and outlook on life. It’s vital for me to recognize the power that weekly therapy has on my gratitude toward feelings of comfort. But if anyone’s asking, a helpful method of seeking inner comfort is watching Gleyber Torres murder a 95 mph fastball and watching it sail high into the Bronx night.

Sebastian de Lasa is a member of the Class of 2022.


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