A hundred fit young gladiators, baby-boomers all, gather in one arena on this day to compete for ribbons and glory. There will be twelve champions, tonight, one from each weight class, and one high school will go home with a trophy. But, before the final wrestling matches, competitors gather on the center mat—and sing.
Reminder: This blog series is dedicated to love, the various kinds of love beyond the romantic and erotic that support personal growth and healing, especially the healing of invisible wounds from Combat PTSD.
Wrestlers from eight competing teams sit on the mat after dinner and before the championship round. We wear colors of our teams—reds, greens, purple, blue, gold, maroon, black—with some of us in street clothes because we are out of the tournament.
We tell jokes. We get to know each other. And we sing.
My teammate brings forth his small four-string guitar and leads us in some old-timey folk songs—“Five Hundred Miles”, “Lemon Tree”, “Tom Dooley”, and we join in.
Music and humor become elixirs. We share more than competition. We get to know each other. We begin to laugh and like each other.
There is a bond among wrestlers on a team, a bond that lasts for years. But, there is also a bond among competitors, although I have not noticed bonds as tight as the ones we formed singing and joking on the mat. It was common to see wrestlers from one team cheering for wrestlers from another team—and coaching each other.
We grew to respect and to like each other. The world could use more of that.
The world could use more folk music sing-a-longs, informal gatherings of simple folks singing simple words and melodies that tell stories of people, passion, and poignancy.
Every now and then we could use a hootenanny.
It matters little how we categorize this kind of love, this respect and affection for competitors. It matters much that we recognize it, find it, and nurture it. After all, without our competitors, there is no competition. They are the reason we are having fun.
Perhaps it matters more to understand, a little, anyway, this other kind of love, the one that nurtures the competitors’ bond.
Maybe one kind of love feeds the other. Maybe the elixirs of our passions, our music, humor, art, or hobbies, help us to feel the love for one another.
Last week I confessed to loving dirt. Genetic or environment or Spirit, it doesn’t matter why. It matters that I do. Farmers and gardeners share a bond. Hunters and gatherers share a bond. Artists, including musicians, share a bond
Blessed are we who have a love, a passion, which we can share. I love dirt and I love learning.
My teammate, Rob, loved Biology and music, and I reckon he still does. I believe he recently retired from his Genetics Professor position, but he has not retired from music.
Care to listen? You can find him online at After Class playing some old-timey music with friends.
Come, join the hootenanny.