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  • Writer's pictureLevi Teldon

Giving a hoot

February 7, 2018

(Originally published on Facebook)

Sheer joy. Utter devastation.

That pretty much sums up fan reactions to the Philadelphia Eagles win over the New England Patriots.

What is it about sports that elicits such a visceral, emotional, biochemical response?

People are fascinating creatures.

This past Sunday's Super Bowl went down to the last play of the final seconds of the well-played game. It was an intense moment.

Hundreds of people instantly shared videos on social media of their “die hard fan” friends and family watching the last play.

Google “eagles patriots fan reactions” and here's what you'll see: grown adults, in total shock, screaming and shouting, slumping over on the couch, falling on their knees, running around the room, slamming TV screens, hugging each other; both out of sheer joy, or utter devastation.

I'm no scientist or psychologist, but here's an observation.

Care. Giving a hoot. Truly, deeply, allowing something outside of you to connect with your very core. Being totally locked in. When something becomes so important to you that it shakes every fiber of your being.

When you can finally touch it, you're electrified; when it remains elusive, you're temporarily numbed by reality's shock-waves. And subsequently crave it even more.

Imagine if we can experience life’s journey like a die-hard fan.

Locked in. Caring to the core. Driven. Skin in the game. Connected.

Connection. That's the magic word.

I can conceptualize and think about the idea of a football match. I may even comprehend the rules of the game, mastering how the draft works, and how coaches strategy wins games.

But it's not until I deliberately, mindfully, connect emotionally with the game, that the game becomes a part of me.

Millions of people enjoy football. Many even have a favorite team. But they're the ones who show up, in team jerseys, once a year in February.

Few, the die-hards, have allowed the game of football to master themselves.

The mystics call this process “Chabad,” an acronym for three Hebrew words that describe three psychological steps:

CHAchma (wisdom) = Conception

Bina (understanding) = Comprehension

Da’at (knowledge) = Connection.

I may be able to conceive of the notion that G-d exists, and have a strong sense of belief. I may even be able to formulate rational arguments, deepening that comprehension. But have I truly connected with that idea? Is it just an objective truth? Has that belief transformed me? Is it also my daily subjective truth? Do I have emotional skin in the game?

Da’at takes time.

Take kindness for example. I may believe in it as a value. I may even understand how truly important it is to society, and to my own spirituality. But when push comes to shove, is that who I am to my core? Does kindness excite me, or am I begrudgingly beholden to an inconvenient value?

Fans of kindness will root for it anywhere they see it.

Lifetime die-hard fans of Team Kindness will cry for it, sweat for it, stay up for it, skip meals for it, and be laser-focused. So long as there's people in need, it bothers them to the core.

They crave the moment.

When the beneficiary is finally helped, their hearts leap with joy; they experience a total psychological, emotional and spiritual boost.

They are electrified.

It takes a lifetime to truly connect with, and be defined by, an abstract idea or value.

We're not all wired like that. But there are special souls out there who truly care.

Today is the 30th yahrtzeit of one such woman, Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Schneerson of blessed memory. Those who knew her were amazed by her truly unique character traits, particularly her deep sensitivity and respect towards others (watch this short documentary with first person accounts

Today, I'll strive to connect with the ideals and values she taught us.

May her memory be for a blessing.

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