This past Tuesday, sitting with my spouse, Kip, in a packed sports bar watching the World Cup soccer match between the U.S.A. and Belgium, I was delighting in the comedy of the situation.
The gathering, mostly young people, many of them decked out in red, white and blue, beers in hand, crowded around the large flatscreen televisions, cheering and groaning together as though they were many bodies ruled by one mind.
The excitement was palpable. Maybe, just maybe the U.S. could pull off an upset and defeat the Belgian team to move on to the next round. Anything seemed possible in this World Cup that has already seen the dethroning of some of the world’s soccer powerhouses.
Thanks in large part to the extraordinary performance of their goal keeper, Tim Howard, the U.S. team managed to hold their own through the 90 minutes of play, and when the whistle sounded to end regular play the game was tied 0-0. During the break before overtime, we all took a breather. The T.V. volume was turned down, the bass-heavy music turned up, people mingled and, in the case of several of us women, stood in line for the restroom.
Not long after the 30 minutes of extra time began, Belgium scored its first goal, and the mood of the crowd instantly plummeted from excitement to disappointment, and then to resignation when Belgium scored yet again. A man behind me, angry, began using expletives more liberally and another young man within ear shot, clinging to the possibility of victory, said, “You gotta believe!”
Then, when the U.S. team scored, hope returned and the game remained a cliffhanger to the bitter end.
What Game Are We Really Playing?
I was finding the whole scenario amusing, noticing how the crowd’s mood could change so dramatically because of a simple shift in a game. It seemed people were going from feeling genuinely happy to feeling genuinely deflated, as though in Reality there is any such thing as “winners” and “losers.”
But in Reality there is only oneness; any perception of separateness is a trick of the mind, the ego’s mind game that we all play along with. Dividing ourselves into nationalities, teams, and even individuals, we pretend separateness is real, and the fact that we aren’t even aware we’re pretending shows how immersed we are in the illusion.
Back at the sports bar, I too was rooting for the U.S., but I was finding myself in a state of wakefulness, knowing that it was all a game. Not merely a soccer game being played in Brazil, but a mind game being played across the world, and I was experiencing the giddiness that comes with knowing you’re going along with a joke.
At one point in the match it sounded like the stadium crowd was singing an anthem, and I wondered if maybe it was Belgium’s anthem, and the thought suddenly occurred to me, “What if we had a world anthem?”
What if, in addition to our national anthems (which express the illusion of separateness) there were a world anthem that we all knew, one we held in common, one we could join into together at moments when we were getting so caught up in the mind game of separateness that we needed a reminder of what’s real: that no matter what’s happening on the field of play, we have always been, and always will be, one.
[image provided by Shutterstock]