Moving On

When is it time to move on?

People ask this question in a variety of contexts. Sometimes it means, “How long should wait to start dating again after a failed relationship?” Sometimes it’s, “How do I know if I need to switch careers?” Or, “How long should I grieve over a loss?”

Lately, I’ve been asking myself about moving on. I don’t mean from my marriage or family, which is at the core of my identity. I don’t even mean about my employer, which I often find ridiculous but still believe in. Rather, I’m trying to move on from something so trivial that it’s taken me six months to work up the nerve to write about it.

I mean, of course, Albert Pujols leaving the Cardinals to play for the Angels.

Crazy, I know. A fully grown and reasonably sane man should not spend his time grumbling about an elite-level (and shamefully rich) athlete changing teams, even if he did leave my and my son’s favorite team for no better reason that money. Not that I’m bitter.

Okay, maybe I’m just a tad bitter.

But I’m trying not to be. Lately, I’ve been forcing myself to watch Pujols play when the Angels are on television. I even check box scores the morning after one of their games to see how he hit. When he does poorly, I try not to be happy. When he does well, I try to wish him well.

My change in attitude is more discipline than emotion, a baseball fan’s version of fake it til you make it. I will myself to want the best for him and his new team. In the grand scheme of things, it’s not all that difficult, nor is it that important.

Except that these smaller pieces of our emotional make up can add up over time. When we let ourselves assume the worst of others, nurse grudges, or hold to dishonest opinions—positive or negative—about someone, we set patterns for other relationships. By contrast, developing the discipline to choose more truthful and positive responses to others helps us form healthier, more open relationships.

Faithfulness in the small things really does pay off in the bigger things.

So I’m working on forgiving a person I’ve never met for something that had no direct bearing on my life. And it won’t be the last time, especially in an election year, when we Americans fall into habits of deriding public figures and those who support them. Mine is only a small and quite temporary step toward civility, but it keeps me on the best path nonetheless.