This evening I had a glimpse of heaven. We are in Montreal, and the house we are staying in happens to be across the street from a park with a basketball court. Yesterday Sasha, my 10 year old, and I went out to shoot and he was sulky and glum. Having played baseball all summer he assumed he could not shoot, could only play baseball, and he was ready to quit after every missed shot. But tonight was different.
As dusk fell we went out to the court. On one half a game was going on, so we took shots until they finished — and we got next. But then three more players arrived and we suggested a full court game. I should mention that a dance class was going on in the park, so the air was filled with the sounds of salsa. Sasha at 10, me at 59 going on 60, plus three teenagers, challenged three teenage boys, a girl (their best shooter) and a skilled man in this 20s.
Picture the scene — gathering dusk, Salsa, and full court — and suddenly Sasha streaking down the court, stealing the ball, leading the fast break, scoring, passing — me dancing as i played: dancing to the music, to the rhythm of the game, to the thrill of playing. i could mention that by skin color the mix of players seemed to be white, hispanic, asian, and Sashaès Indian-Jewish mix. And we won, 15-3. There is nothing, i mean nothing, more perfect than a night like that — pick up basketball — people you have never met, and will never again, finding a rhythm, testing each other, becoming something you never expected was possible. I cannot imagine anything like that, that moment of heaven, that picture of perfection — i wish it for all of you. That is what sports can do — show you how you can go beyond yourself, and how anyone can be your team mate, or the foe who brings out your best. As i said, perfection.