Last night, I went to my niece’s championship game for the summer softball league she’s in. I watched her team duke it out with a team bigger and probably better than hers and that ultimately won. I listened to the “ah, it was a close game” and the “at least you guys fought for it” comments afterward, and I couldn’t get the screaming intensity of the cheering section where I was sitting out of my head for many hours. I’ve never been the sports type. You’re more likely to find me sporting a thick tome than anything athletic, and I’m very comfortable with that. So when I participate in these intense events, I feel like I’m missing something. “Was that criticism necessary?” I asked my husband as we left, referring to my niece’s parents, who were, well, a bit harsh I thought. He assured me that it wasn’t the kind of criticism I thought it was; that when he was coaching his baby brother in basketball, he played much the same role.

There’s probably a reason I never played team sports, but I wonder how much it would help me. Would it make it easier for me to “play” with difficult colleagues and give me endurance with tiring tasks? Would it simply make me more competitive (we don’t need more of that, I assure you!) and more equipped to “win” in my daily life? The answers to questions like these probably vary greatly, depending on the person. For my part, I avoided competitive sports, but I did discover FFA (which used to stand for Future Farmers of America, but has now been polished up like so many other things, and is just “FFA”) and the many competitions there. I won a couple of public speaking competitions and got up at crazy hours for early-morning parliamentary procedure practice. I was president of the local chapter and the best reporter they had ever seen (being completely objective on the last one, of course).

When I applied for scholarships, it was very handy to have been so active in FFA and throughout my later college experience. But what I’ve had to learn as a consequence is how to enjoy the silence, how to stay at home with my family, and how to unschedule my calendar. Perhaps the residue of these activities is an expectation of constant movement, and in that, we lose the joy of the quiet. Now, I’m not a naturally quiet person, but I have come to love my evenings at home. In fact, I guard them with something close to fierceness. Although I thrive on human interaction and being busy, if I’m not careful, it will turn into just that – being busy. And in spinning my wheels endlessly, I never have that important time to recharge myself, to revisit my priorities, to reevaluate what I’m doing.

Watching my niece at the championship game last night, I couldn’t help but notice the fun the girls on her team were having. Winning was really secondary to the fact that they had made it to the championship game. She got a trophy for second place, and a glow for how well she had played and practiced and listened. And I reaffirmed to myself how important it is to have evenings to share, so that I can be a part of these amazing family activities I am so blessed to have around me.