The other night found me in a ritzy part of Kansas City—and I’ll be honest, I have no idea where specifically I was. I do know that we were at a cool meeting place with fellow employees and that there was bocce ball.
For those of you who don’t know what bocce ball is, you would likely fit in with most the rest of the population of earth. And for those who do know what it is, you may be like me and not know any of the rules beyond that you sort of roll heavy balls at a distinct, less-heavy ball in an attempt to get the closest to it. Who goes when or how to achieve success, well, that is anyone’s guess.
And with this general premise regarding the “how-to” of bocce ball, a game ensued. I was a spectator of the two courts or fields or plots or what-have-you’s, so I got to watch both games and sort of gauge the action, assess the skill, and, the best part of being a spectator, criticize how everyone else did everything.
And one thing was glaring: no one was really any good. I mean, they weren’t bad, like compared, say, with a bocce-playing retriever (imagine how riveting that Air Bud sequel could be!). But for human bocce players, yeah, I’d say they weren’t too good. I couldn’t do better—I’m a realist—but certainly I could hold my own, along with nearly anyone who has never played and doesn’t know the rules.
They played for about a half-hour of back-and-forth bocce action—I use “action” loosely here—when an employee of the venue strolled up: she was really important. I know she was important for two reasons. First, she had a clipboard. People who walk around with clipboards are important—they just are. Second, she interjected herself in with these bocce-playing strangers, and, wielding clipboard deftly, explained to them that they weren’t playing correctly. Sure, rule-wise they were fine—it is a pretty straightforward affair. The problem was the manner in which participants were rolling the ball.
“You have to throw it,” she demonstrated, clipboard still in hand—can’t let that thing go, you know.
She lobbed the ball underhanded with a generous arc. It plopped to the turf and then slowed to a halt. No more rolls to the back wall! No more totally bypassing the target! No more missing the mark!
With this 18 second coaching session, the gameplay reached new levels instantly. It was still bocce ball, so a crowd of raging fans didn’t arrive or anything, but it was better. It was skillful and a bit closer to what bocce ball is meant to be.
Enter life, right? I mean, all that time there was an expert waiting in the wings, but for a half hour, we just all went our own way, content to do it wrong just to be doing at all.
I wonder how often I do this in life? I just keep at it, doing the best I know how, even though that best isn’t any good whatsoever. There is a better way, I just don’t know it. Of course, this doesn’t really matter in bocce ball because, come on, it is bocce ball—is there a less important thing in all the earth? But in life . . . what if I am just being a husband wrong? What if you are being a mother wrong? What if we are terrible employees? Sure we are laughing and going through the motions and it isn’t terrible, but it sure isn’t good and far from best.
So the question becomes, where is the expert in your life? Who is that person with the clipboard who can help you “get” the game?
Had this expert not inserted herself, we may still be out there in Kansas somewhere rolling those weighted balls to no avail. And in life, seldom does the expert tote a clipboard and interject themselves. Usually they are quietly waiting in the wings. It is on us to seek them out, to invite them into our lives, to allow them to change and to impact our lives. I want experts. I don’t want to do work wrong or marriage wrong or pursue after Christ wrong or even play bocce ball wrong for that matter. Sure, there might be all sorts of right ways to go, which is great. But if I’m not doing any of them, I am caged by my own ignorance and limited to those self-made sturdy walls.
And the funny part was, we were playing a game all about hitting the mark, nearing the target, being precise and purposeful. Life is no different–or, at least, it shouldn’t be.
So who’s your expert? Find them. Give them a clipboard if it helps. And give them permission to better your journey.