I heard a phrase the other day that struck a strong, lingering chord. I’m not going to tell you where because you will mock me.
(It was in yoga class. I am now quoting things I’ve heard in yoga class. I know. I’m going all East Side on everyone.)
The teacher mentioned giving gratitude for all the people who had gone before us “in a lineage of love.” That’s different from a legacy of love.
A legacy requires dedication- good or bad. Whether you spend a lifetime feeding the hungry or eating them, it requires effort. No one wakes up in the morning thinking they’ll just kind of wander into booting a kitten across the street that day (and if you do, please don’t expect me to let you in when you attempt to make a left turn on Columbia Parkway at 4 PM on Friday of a holiday weekend.)
A lineage is what we’re handed. We can’t do anything about it, partially because the ones who produced it might not have had much choice in the matter, themselves– either due to life’s circumstances, the era in which they lived, or the lineage handed to them from the generations before.
Legacies can be repaired and redeemed. A lineage is a list on a family tree and there’s no erasing it.
Lineage means that even if love wasn’t present at the beginning of the endeavor, it probably was at some point along the line. It could have appeared in the form of adoptive parents, a volunteer at a crisis center, a caring mentor, or a guiding boss.
It means someone at some point showed you love– even if that only person was you. You’re here and still here.
The Cincinnati Reds are here and still here because this team is sustained by love. We almost lost them at one point; the love of women anchored them at home.
One of my favorite aspects of living as a once and future Cincinnatian is that our baseball lineage is a long one, dating to the very origins of the sport. For those of us whose families are rooted here, our ancestors have some kind of relationship with the Cincinnati Reds, dating back to great-grandparents whose first names we probably have to look up on Ancestry.com. Even if that relationship was dedicated apathy, there at least was one.
When Josh The PIlot and I lived in Alabama, we attended exactly one baseball game featuring the AA Mobile BayBears. I have no idea of the score. We could not name a single player, then or now. But we’re part of that organization’s lineage, even though it’s now known as the Rocket City Trash Pandas and located in Madison. For that single night in the 2010s, our bodies were part of the attendance count. For a few hours, we ate hot dogs, wandered the stands, applauded the home team. We loved. We’re locked in.
This is why baseball fans concern ourselves with ownership and player quality. We enjoyed jumping up and down in the aisles and want to hand it down to those who have not. Even if we just want to experience the anticipation, quickened heartbeats, and years of savoring the highlights, it becomes part of our own lineage.
The next generation may choose to embrace it, discard it, or ignore it– but we have done our part, if even unwittingly, if even in the ignoring or the walking away.