There I was at my brother’s place, slumped over on the carpet in front of the tv, my head buried in my hands. The disappointment was palpable…the Ravens had missed a game tying field goal in the last seconds, and the Patriots were off to yet another Super Bowl. And as I lurched there in front of the tv, I had a moment of self-analysis…why was I so consumed with a game that had no consequence to me? My team wasn’t in it, I didn’t have any money on it, I’d be watching the Super Bowl regardless of who was going to play in it, so why? Was I cheering for, or cheering against?
The event itself had only lasted a few seconds, but the emotion I had felt was still strong enough to acknowledge, and I think it pertains to a lot of situations in life. Most of these times are inconsequential, but we’ve still all had that fleeting moment of cheering against something. It could be that driver who was on your ass in the fast lane, and you grind your teeth and hope you drive past them when they get stuck behind someone. Maybe it’s a co-worker who always gets away with something, and you’re hoping for once they don’t. Maybe it’s the person who cut you off at the border to get to a different line, and you hope you get through customs first. Someone got the last of something at the store, someone takes your parking spot, it could be big or small, but you’re quickly consumed with “I hope they die-in-a-fire/get-what’s-coming-to-them/don’t-get-what-they-want.” It may be brief, it may not matter, but for that micro-second the world would be a better place if they got what was coming to them.
This of course is not healthy. For anyone who believes in karma, you win both ways by not cheering against someone. You’ll get good back because you’re not wishing ill on anyone, and they’ll “get theirs” because that’s how karma works. How many times have you or someone who know said “Karma” when someone does something “unpopular”? Mind you, you can’t say it with spite or distain in your voice, because you’re then essentially wishing bad karma on them, or cheering against them.
There’s the sarcastic reaction, one that I think I’ve mastered behind the wheel of my car. When someone decides to put everyone’s life at risk around them by negotiating through traffic like a bull in Pamplona, I’ll dig into my bag of encouraging compliments: “That was a GREAT idea.” “Probably the safest decision you could have made there!” “The roads must be closing soon, you go ahead and hurry past us all, we don’t matter.” And then I continue driving while images of them broken down at the side of the road flash in front of my eyes. Dare I say in our worst moments, we may have possibly wished they would crash? “Nothing gory or hurting anyone else” is the reasoning our brain puts forward, making it completely ok that we’re wishing ill on someone else. Once again, cheering against them.
There’s a prayer some people lean on when things like this happen, and even though I’m not the most religious person, I agree with the idea, and if it sounds familiar chant along with me:
Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the strength to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
When people do things that are stupid, maybe they don’t know any better. Maybe they didn’t learn the right thing to do. Maybe they’re having an awful day, or just made a mistake. They probably have no concept of your wants/needs/desires, and aren’t doing something specifically to ruin your existence. So I try to lean on that phrase when I can to remind myself that it’s not a big deal, and life’s going to continue from that point forward, so I might as well get my head straight and move on in a positive frame of mind.
So as I look back at my Ravens/Patriots reaction, I reflect on why I had ended up in that moment, on that carpet. Maybe it was because I was cheering for the Ravens, and I just wanted them to make it to the big game, so I was disappointed for them. Maybe I was hoping for the fans in Baltimore, cheering for them to get to enjoy the next couple weeks like I enjoyed last year waiting for the Packers to play. Maybe I was cheering for a great finish to what had been a pretty good game throughout. Maybe…
I’m sick of the Patriots. Therefore I choose to cheer for the Giants. It’s not against anyone. So it’s alright. Right? sports