January was the month we began our baseball season when I was back in college. Right after the winter break, we’d be back in the gym. I went to school in the Northeast and snow covered fields were not conducive to taking batting practice or fielding groundballs to prepare for a new season.
On the first day of practice each year, we would sit in the bleachers waiting for our coach to emerge from his office and address our team. Each year he would walk out, baseball cap on carrying only one item with him.
“This,” he said to us, “is a baseball.”
There he stood with the familiar white ball with red stitching. Of course it was a baseball, we thought. Most of us had been playing the game since we would walk. Why was he telling us the obvious?
It was all about the fundamentals.
For the first week, we never touched a bat or a glove. We did drills with the ball, getting our hands reacquainted with the object most of us hadn’t touched in quite some time. The game starts and stops around the baseball, and coach made sure we understood that.
Life itself is full of basic fundamentals that bear repeating. “Wash your hands often” is good advice to help keep us healthier especially during flu season. “Pay yourself first” is a mantra of financial advisors to help people plan for retirement. “Plan ahead” is likewise sound financial advice whether it be for life insurance, creating a will, or taking care of memorial and cemetery needs.
Perhaps one of the most important yet most lacking fundamental nowadays is simply to “Be kind.” The current raucous mood that permeates politics could certainly use a good dose of kindness.
As we begin a new year, we have a fresh new opportunity to remember the fundamentals which provide a firm foundation for our lives and make our world a better place to be.