- Close to the Sun
A Whole New Ballgame
I want post this song and commentary now because it’s corresponding reading, Hexagram 1. The Creative, is especially timely, in light our recent catastrophic Presidential election.
The Creative is the gateway to the I Ching, and according to Confucius, the key to understanding all the subsequent readings. The hexagram is formed by doubling the figure of “Qian” translated “Heaven” and consists of all yang lines. It represents the ultimate condition of yang, which we associate with sun, the heavens, or the male archetype. And in the same manner, Hexagram 2. Kun, The Receptive, is created by doubling the figure of “Earth” to create the ultimate condition yin, which we associate with the moon, the earth, or the female archetype. The most powerful manifestation of yang isn’t strength or power. It’s creation. The hexagram explores how and when one is in or out of sync with the way of heaven, by correctly or incorrectly emulating the “nature of nature”. And in the fifth changing line, which most successfully exemplifies the condition of the creative, the I Ching explains that in order to create the new, take action, establish collective harmony, or even overthrow tyranny, one needs wise leadership and a community of worthy helpers. One can use the power of the creative to create or destroy. And oh that these words could be heeded by our new President elect, because from his divisive and vicious campaign rhetoric, to the appointment of Steve Bannon, an outspoken white nationalist, to the position of White House Chief Counsel, it would appear that he is far more interested in the latter. Time will tell, but early indications are that we’re all in for one ghastly ride.
In 1962, on his way to winning National League MVP, Maury Wills had to endure the tyranny of racism. The same fans who cheered when he broke Ty Cobb’s single-season stolen base record, barred him from restaurants and hotels due to the color of his skin.
And years later when I was twelve, my little All-Star team from Auburn, Alabama won the sub-district, and district championships, against all odds, and advanced to the state tournament. Our most daunting opponents that summer weren’t wearing hats and gloves. They were in the bleachers waving racist placards, throwing ice and hurling racist epithets because, unbelievably, even though Alabama schools had been integrated for years, we were the only team with black players. We had Steve Jones, who later became a Professor of Art out here at The University of Texas, Stanley Dallas, who went on to play pro basketball in Europe, and Reggie Keith, a left- handed pitcher with an infectious smile, a fastball that could cut to the right, and a devastating un-hittable curve that fell off the table. Even though the State Tournament was held in the Alabama’s nasty capital of crime and racism, Phenix City, we continued to wreak havoc against our opponents. Versus Centre we set a state record, which stood until just a couple of years ago, for hitting nine home runs in one game. But when we came to the finals we had one loss and that meant we’d have to take down the seemingly unbeatable Birmingham Hoover team not once, but twice. Just before the national anthem our coaches walked us all back behind the Hoover dugout to show us something. It was a box full of T-shirts that read, “Hoover- Alabama State Champions”. He said, “see boys, they’ve already got the T-shirts made. How does that make you feel?” Well the wrath of God came down on those little toe-headed boys from Hoover that day. And I’ll never forget the grieved look on the face of their final out the following afternoon. When my friend Butch Clothiaux dropped a two-strike twelve-six curve on that blonde haired, blue eyed member of the Hoover Aryan race, the tears were coming down his face before his bat was done “splittin’ the atoms” above home plate, the ball a solid two feet out of reach. We became the first ever State Champions from Auburn, and advanced to the World Series (where we were unceremoniously sent packing by North Carolina). Although I wanted more playing time, being a part of that team is one of the proudest achievements of my life. One memory that really sticks with me is the way those black families would huddle around their ballplayers to protect them as they walked across the parking lot to their cars after the game, with the boys often crying. We did, as a team, all we could do in the face of tyranny. We loved each other and we won, over and over again. I saw Reggie a few years ago in Auburn and I tried to talk with him about what he and the other families had had to endure that summer. His eyes filled with tears and he told me, “I can’t even talk about that Rhino…. I can’t even talk about that, it’s still going on man- they just hide it better” Rhino was his nickname for me. God Bless you, Reggie Keith.
“Close to the Sun” performed by Robert Harrison, Whit Williams, Dana Myzer, Josh Gravelin, Darin Murphy and George Reiff
Recorded by RH at The Star Apple Kingdom
Additional recording by Lars Goransson at Sounds Outrageous
Mixed by Lars and mastered by Bob Ohlsson