We Lost, We Won; Either Way We Had Fun…

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a blog about buying a book about soccer by famed Uruguyan writer Eduardo Galeano.  I haven’t made it through many pages of Soccer in Sun and Shadow yet — at times I find it too tediously didactic, and other books have been beckoning more forcefully for my attention — but the simple rhyme that Galeano heard children singing as they returned from playing soccer and that he cited on the book’s dedication page has been continuously resounding in my head:

“We lost, we won; either way we had fun.”

These words of wisdom are the game-plan for Travel With Balls.  TWB’s explicit goal is to inspire people to give out soccer balls to children when they’re traveling through developing countries.  So far, if you’re only looking at scores, we haven’t been wildly successful — up to now we’re aware of only three other people who have handed out balls on their travels because of TWB.

But here’s the thing, TWB’s implicit goal is joy!  William, Starr and I aren’t at all discouraged by our lack of scoring because we’re having an incredible time playing Travel With Balls.   We’re not worried about the ultimate outcome of the game because we’re passionately caught up in the play — we’re having a ball doing what we’re doing — kicking around ideas; blogging; creating videos, designing promotional flyers and t-shirts; making new friends and building a TWB fan base by talking to anyone and everyone we meet.   The three of us are exercising our gifts and talents in ways that are both hugely enjoyable and meaningful to us — we’re on the field, we’re in the flow and we’re feeling energetic and enthused — how could we ask for anything more?

We’re still confident that the scores will eventually come, that sooner or later TWB videos will find their way onto our Facebook page.  But the beautiful thing about Travel With Balls is that this game isn’t ruled by the clock.  We don’t have a referee staring at his watch and ready to blow his whistle.  We don’t have team sponsors that are breathing down our neck to bring home the trophy.  We can take our time and experience the pleasures of letting the game unfold as it will, according to its own internal logic.   As we’ve been discovering, there are shots that misfire, players that look promising but don’t pan out, times we can’t advance the ball beyond the midfield, but there are also delightful and unexpected twists and turns, glorious moments of magic and astonishing grace that inspire and evoke a rapturous awe.  It’s all a part of the joga bonito, which as Pelé certainly understood, is all about the passion you bring to the play, whether the game is  soccer, TWB, or life.

As every seasoned traveler knows, the journey IS the destination.  If the goal is joy then the only way to get there is with joy.   In the end, the final TWB score really won’t matter because, like those children, we’ll be able to sing with gusto, “We lost, we won; either way we had fun.”

Travel With Balls!

Peace & Blessings,
Jan

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