manny being mindful

There is a great piece in this week’s issue of The New Yorker about Manny Ramirez entitled Waiting For Manny. It was written by Ben McGrath and shines an ever-so-slim shaft of light on the enigmatic Boston slugger (I guess I have a baseball theme going here today). We’ve all heard the maxim “Manny being Manny” used to describe Ramirez’s on- and off-field antics, like always showing up late for spring training, disappearing through a doorway in left field to urinate while the game is going on, or barely jogging down the first base line when he hits into an easy groundout. Not to mention Grill-gate on eBay. For me, what shines clearly in this story is Manny’s desire to be the best hitter he can be. Perhaps the greatest hitter ever. His single-pointedness is admirable, even if he hardly ever speaks to the media, or hasn’t donated a single dime to George Washington High School in New York City, his alma mater. When the Buddha gave his first discourse to what were to become his first five disciples at the Deer Park at Sarnath, the fourth and last of the Four Noble Truths he preached was something called the Noble Eightfold Path. By following these eight steps, a monk could gain enlightenment. Four of these, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness, Right Concentration could apply to Manny’s quest. I’m not saying Manny is an enlightened being, although he might be. Or he might be, in David Ortiz’s words, “a crazy motherfucker.” But it’s too easy to make judgments about him, or any person, really. I’m just looking for examples of mindfulness wherever I can find them. Maybe what appears as aloofness is just an intense shyness, and maybe what seems like snobbery is just a way to create the distance he needs to fulfill his dream. Maybe he doesn’t really pay attention to how many balls and strikes he has on him until he sees a pitch he can hit is because otherwise he wouldn’t hit at all. When the five monks in the deer park first saw their old friend and fellow-seeker Gautama walking towards them, they wanted to snub him because to them, he had given up practicing austerities and had instead taken the easy way out. But when he approached them, they found they couldn’t ignore him. Because he was now a fully enlightened human being, he radiated such an intense peace that they were drawn to him. Instead of ignoring him, they waited on him. Just like we do for Manny. Because he brings us joy.

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