Thursday, March 13, 2008

This Ball Field, Moon and Sixpence, Home

This is Orange Grove Field in South Pasadena; the softball field where my two daugthers have played for the past 10 or so years. I love this place, and I have been thinking about why that is.

We came here after a couple of years of T-ball in another park, with little girls picking dandelions in right field and wondering what base to run to after they hit if off the tee. The biggest event of the game for the girls was, of course, the snack. I loved those years, perhaps more now than I did back then.

The Moon and Sixpence (1919) is a short novel by William Somerset Maugham based on the life of the painter Paul Gauguin. The story is told in episodic form by the first-person narrator as a series of glimpses into the mind and soul of the central character, Charles Strickland, a middle aged English stock broker who abandons his wife and children abruptly in order to pursue his desire to become an artist.

What does "The Moon and Sixpence", from 1919, have to do with playing softball on the clay infield and green grass of Orange Grove park in 2008? Listen to this quote from the book, and maybe you might understand a bit more.

"I have an idea that some men are born out of their due place. Accident has cast them amid certain surroundings, but they have always a nostalgia for a home they know not. They are strangers in their birthplace, and the leafy lanes they have known from childhood... remain but a place of passage. They may spend their whole lives aliens among their kindred and remain aloof among the only scenes they have ever known. Perhaps it is this sense of strangeness that sends men far and wide in the search for something permanent, to which they may attach themselves... Sometimes a man hits upon a place to which he mysteriously feels that he belongs. Here is the home he sought, and he will settle amid scenes that he has never seen before, among men he has never known, as though they were familiar to him from his birth. Here at last he finds rest."

That's it. All of life seems to be about the search for, the often and silent ache to know the way, and the journey toward... home. Strangely, when I hit the grass of Orange Grove, helping to coach girls softball, if feel as if I may have settled upon a place to which I mysteriously feel I belong. Perhaps this green grass, this subtle pink and blue sunset above me, is just a peek, a glimpse of Something More, and a place I will someday call Home. A final place to settle.

Someday, I will know that place. I will be Home, at last. At rest.

Until then, I cannot think of a better place to be on a fresh, cool, spring night than at this field, with these girls.
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