The Story of the Three Umpires - A Tale of Conscious Concluding
Once upon a time in the long and glorious history of the American game called Baseball, there were three Umpires. Now, the Umpire plays and important role in the game of Baseball, averting many arguments, fist-fights, one would dare say, even a few murders, because it is a Rule of Engagement in the Baseball gameworld that the one who judges whether a Baseball that is Pitched to the Batter by the Pitcher flies not too low and not too high and directly over the Home Plate and is called a 'Strike', or if that Pitched Baseball is thrown outside of the 'Strike Zone' and is called a 'Ball'.
This decision is so crucial because any Batter who gets three 'Strikes' is 'Out'.
Now it came to be time for the National Baseball Umpire Convention and a wise Master of Ceremonies arranged to interview three Baseball Umpires on stage in a Panel Discussion. The title of this particular Panel Discussion is: The Mystery of the Call, and it attracts thousands of Baseball enthusiasts into the auditorium.
The first Umpire to be interviewed is the greenhorn, fresh out of the Umpire Training and Certification Program in Cincinnati, Ohio.
The Master of Ceremonies ceremoniously clears his throat to quiet the excited audience and asks the greenhorn Umpire, "How can you be certain that any given Pitch is a Ball or a Strike?"
The audience quiets down while the greenhorn scrunches up his face, wishing he had this thick Umpire Uniform on right now with its thick chest-protection-pad and its armored face-mask to guard off everyone's piercing scrutiny aimed exactly in his direction. He takes a deep breath, looks into the audience's expectant faces, and says with certainty, "I call it the way it is."
The audience lets out their chili-dog and Cracker Jack scented breaths as one big sigh, and look back-and-forth at each other, nodding their sun-reddened heads in approval. But of course! How could there be any other answer than this? The Baseball is either in the Strike Zone or not! Easy as apple pie!
After the plebeians settle down, the Master of Ceremonies clears his throat again, for the audience is visibly antsy in their Assumption that there can be no other answer more truthful than this.
The second Umpire to be interviewed is a full-fledged professional Umpire having served many seasons all across the nation in his E.C.C.O.-chosen profession. The Master of Ceremonies catches the Umpire's eyes - those very eyes relied upon by so many to track the path of a small string-wound leather-sewn sphere streaking by at ninety-miles-an-hour on a sunny day - and places the burden of his question upon his shoulders, "Tell us, Sir, after all your years of experience, how can you be certain that any given Pitch is a Ball or a Strike?"
After a few more chews on his Wrigley's Spearmint Gum, and a swallow, the experienced Baseball Umpire candidly explains, "I call it the way I see it."
Almost as one the entire audience lets out the sigh of a satisfied mind. "Ahhhhhhhhhhh!" they moan in unison. What truth has just been spoken. Of course! This is the Umpire's job! To see the Ball! There is no machine, no Strike-Zone-Field-Detector yet invented that can, Pitch-after-Pitch, game-after-game, season-after-season so reliably see where the Ball flies. This is what the Umpire is paid for: standing in his expertise at calling it how he sees it.
Even the Master of Ceremonies nods his head at that answer. He imagines that the apex of this year's climactic Panel Discussion has already been reached. None in the audience would care to be sitting in the third Umpire's seat right now. All eyes focus on his sun-leathered face and hunched over shoulders.
During this Gap in the Noise, the tension in the auditorium continues to rise, as if it is the bottom of the Ninth Inning, the Home Team is two Runs behind, the Bases are Loaded, the Batter already has two strikes, the Pitcher eyes his Short Stop and First Base Man, and then reels back for the Pitch. What will the Umpire say?
The third Umpire to be interviewed in this exhausting Panel Discussion has been a Baseball Umpire, it seems, almost as long at the noble gameworld of Baseball has existed. He sits alertly in his padded chair, neither chewing nor fidgeting, seeming to scan the entire audience with soft-eyes as if he can take everything in as one whole scene. He does not even turn towards the Master of Ceremonies as this most serious inquiry is leveled in his general direction, "And you, Sir. After so many decades of co-creating the multi-faceted ever-evolving gameworld of Baseball, how can you be certain that any given Pitch is a Ball or a Strike?"
This moment has always been remembered. It could never be forgotten. It was that moment when seven-thousand three-hundred and forty-two ardent Baseball aficionados sit in absolute silence on the edge of their seats, speechless, longing for the truth to be spoken for the third time in a row in this incredibly powerful Panel Discussion.
The moment is so silent you could hear a drop of sweat hit the floor. But the Third Umpire, this Wizard Umpire, the Umpire called in when problems become inconceivable and every known solution is blocked by emotional Reactivity and Gremlin shenanigans, THIS Umpire... is not sweating. He is Centered, Grounded, Bubbled, Present, and Attentive, with 13 Tools strapped to his waist. He is Holding and Navigating the Space of this entire auditorium into Extraordinary... no... into Archetypal Domains. Without looking at the Master of Ceremonies, in a firm but grating voice which every individual can hear but not every individual can understand, the Third Umpire says, "It is nothing until I Call it."
No one agrees in their retelling about what exactly happens after that.
Not even the video-recording sound system tolerates the intensity of the outburst from the disrupted crowd.
Some remember that the Third Umpire was carried out into the dining hall on the shoulders of the crowd.
Some say the third Umpire was crushed by confused and outraged Baseball Fans trying to force their reality back into the shape it had before they heard the third Umpire's answer and he had to go to the hospital.
What we think happened is that the Third Umpire stepped sideways out of the space he had just created and walked calmly out the door as if he were a janitor. Nobody noticed where he went. But some people's lives were transformed, and they somehow got together and started an Initiation Center in the hills of Costa Rica that still exists til this day.
It Is Possible to Create, Inhabit, and Relate Within a Space That Is Free of Conclusions