Last night, I experienced something that changed me and my perspective on what’s really important in life.
It was the bottom of the 5th inning. The score was 5-5. My fifteen year old daughter was on the field, focused on helping her varsity softball team win an important conference game. What happened next changed not only the course of the game, but also the the perspective of everyone present.
Two vehicles sped into the parking lot, less than two hundred yards from the field. The occupants of one vehicle fired five shots at the other vehicle, one of the vehicles crashed into a parked pickup truck, and both vehicles fled the scene.
The players froze. The fans froze. Within seconds, everyone processed what just happened and both fans and players took cover in the confusion that followed. One moment our girls were playing a game they love, and in the next moment the fans and coaches were scanning the park, looking for the shooter and for anyone who may have been hit by a stray bullet.
The tension and fear were palpable as several parents called 911 to report the crime. Witnesses were identified and everyone was accounted for and uninjured. It’s fortunate the only damage was to the parked pickup truck. My daughter and her teammates were visibly shaken, but everyone was safe.
As the police arrived and started their investigation, the coaches conferred and decided to end the game in a 5-5 tie. In the big scheme of things, the outcome of the game doesn’t matter. It’s just a game and we all gained some perspective on what really matters. Our children were safe. Their parents, fans and coaches were safe.
I also witnessed how potential tragedy brings out the best in people (click to tweet). It was senior night for the opposing team, and one of their seniors approached our bench, visibly upset and apologetic that we all drove an hour for a game that was forced to end prematurely because of the actions of a few dangerous people with no respect for life. Even more moving was the support shown by the fathers of the opposing players, who organized themselves to safely escort our players and coaches to the team bus for a long, emotional ride home.
I drove home alone in silence, with nothing but my thoughts. During that drive, I gained a new perspective on what’s really important in life. Suddenly, everything stressful in my life didn’t matter. I realized my problems are insignificant in a world where lives can change in an instant (click to tweet). I could have lost my daughter. I didn’t. She could have lost me, a teammate or a coach. She didn’t.
This morning, my daughter and her team will meet with the athletic director and school counselors before school. Softball, which was once a safe bubble of fun and competition, became something more last night. Sometimes the world is a complicated and messed up place, and they need reassurance that this event, although scary, is not the norm. They’ll all need time to process and heal, and hopefully it won’t take long to restore that bubble of fun, competition and safety.
Do me a favor and hug someone you love today. Life can change in an instant, and I hope you’ll take a moment to consider your perspective on life and what’s really important to you.