The fun, rowdy-in-a-good-way group of guys seated in front of us didn’t start out that way. At the beginning of the game they weren’t even sitting there. But as the game played on, they migrated from wherever their seats were in the stadium and ended up about four rows in front of where we sat. Then, as the group made more and more trips to get beer, they got louder and louder.
They all stood during the sixth inning and got the bleachers riled up for a wave. Maybe it was all of them being decked out in various styles of Red Sox gear, or the obvious Boston accent they had as they yelled, “Hey! Come on heah! Let’s get da wave goin’! Ev’ybody UP!” (Is that how you spell a Boston accent?!? Please forgive me if I got it wrong.)
I’m not sure why (maybe we all made enough trips to get beer as well), but everyone listened and we all stood up. We threw our hands in the air like we didn’t care and watched as the wave took off. It circled around and headed for the area where it had died during previous attempts. It didn’t stop there; it kept going. And we all cheered even louder as it circled the entire stadium and came back around to us.
We stood up again and screamed as it circled around.
It came back again.
It circled Fenway four times before something amazing happened in the game that caused all of us to abandon our efforts and scream collectively at the home run hit into the stands.
Another man tried getting a wave started earlier in the game, but it never made it very far. He tried and tried, but traveling clockwise from where we were seated in the bleacher-seats, the wave never made it past home plate.
What did the group of rowdy guys have that the one individual man didn’t have? I’m not sure. There were more of them, they had “dressed for success”, and their timing was better. Their energy was palatable and they were bent on having a good time. The other gentleman, while his intentions were good and the same, he didn’t have the fun-boistrous-Boston-accent piece. The guys didn’t seem as desperate for the wave to work, even though they wanted it just as much.
When the wave ended and we were all basking in the glory of our efforts, the guys kept high-fiving each other, “We did dat!” “We’ah aaaawwwwsome!” they congratulated each other. And we all felt proud knowing we had done it, too. We were part of the “group”.
Isn’t that what we’re all doing here? As humans, we want to connect, to be a part of something bigger than ourselves -groups, clubs, families, tribes. And then in these groups sometimes we try to make waves, to make a difference, to make ourselves heard.
While we were sitting at the game, I opened my email between innings (Because there wasn’t enough connection going on for me with all those thousands of people cheering toward a common goal.). Anyway, I was expecting an email from a woman I met with before we left for Boston. She and I connected because I’m a member of a club no one wants to join: Survivors of Suicide. (If you don’t know this about me, you can read about it here and here.) As a member of this club, I feel a strong need to help others in their grieving process.
As I sat in Fenway Park, with my family, as a new member of a group called Red Sox Fans, I got the news from this email that I’m going to start telling my story publicly, in person, for the first time to groups of people in my community. I’m sharing my story so it can help others and make a difference.
I’m going to be making waves myself. Not by standing up in a stadium, but in small rooms, with grieving people facing a loss that can be confusing, horrible, and devastating. I’ll be working with a program in my area called Transitions Mental Health Association to share my story and I’m proud to help in any way I can.
And I’m hoping the wave I start will carry on far beyond home plate and travel around and around as long as it needs to travel for others to heal, feel better about themselves, and be at peace with being members of a group no one wants to be a part of. I want to create the same effect the group of guys sitting in front of us created. (Maybe I’ll wear my new, favorite Red Sox sweatshirt to my first presentation. I want to “dress for success”, too.)
How are you making waves? Do they catch on? Do they travel around, come back to you again, gain momentum, and become their own force? I sure hope so. And I hope they will for me, too.
(And don’t you worry -I may be the latest, greatest Red Sox fan, but I’ll always be a Giants fan, too. Because I believe love multiplies, it doesn’t divide. But that’s a story for another blog post.)