It was Saturday at 3:00 and Ted Woodland came to be coached on his hitting game. Ted hadn’t come to practice for over a few weeks. His mother had been gravely ill with cancer.
PHIL: “Hey, Ted!”
PHIL: “Ted, are you okay?”
Ted started crying and Phil instantly knew. He didn’t force a hug he just knelt with Ted and felt what he felt.
“I-I-I don’t know whether or not she is in heaven,” he sobbed.
“M-M-Mom became an Atheist after her depression. S-s-she doesn’t believe she even has a soul.”
“I’m not very good at religion Ted but I know a lot about them. Tell me what does your daddy think?”
Ted wiped the snot from his nose on his sleave, rubbed his eyes and looked up.
“He thinks she’ll be in heaven with him anyway because they were sealed in the temple. He said he will call her name when the resurrection happens.”
“So what does Mr. Ted think?”
“I DON’T KNOW!”
Ted turned and choked back more tears. And then he looked at Phil out of instinct.
Phil sniffed and felt a loose bugger in his nose. He took out a handkerchief and blew it free.
“Ted,” asked Phil. “Are you REALLY brave?”
Ted nodded with ferocity through tears.
“Ted, I can’t tell you the truth, but I can let you feel it. Would you like to feel the truth about your mommy?”
“Okay, we really can’t tell where and who we are in this Universe of ours. It sucks. But we CAN feel things. But feelings are sometimes wrong too. Have you ever noticed that?”
“This is going to be hard,” said Phil. “So I gotta ask you. Are you really tough?”
Ted nodded. Phil took a baseball bat and gave it to him.
“Right hand only Ted.”
Ted held the bat in his right hand.
“There are two truths about you and your mom I want to show you. One is the truth that she and you both have souls and you are going to be Gods someday in the Mormon Celestial Kindom. Now squeeze the bat with your hand and try to feel that truth completely and growl like it was absolutely true.”
Ted squeezed the handle and growled.
“Did you feel anything strong?”
Ted tried again. He squeezed harder and growled more.
“Yeah, I can feel something!”
Great now I have ANOTHER truth that is absolutely true. Hold this other baseball bat in your LEFT hand and put the other down. Now. I want you to embrace the idea that your mother is right and there is no soul of you or her and that it is the ABSOLUTE TRUTH. It will feel sad, so growl a little as you squeeze the handle as hard as you can. But admit that you were totally wrong before and embrace that as the truth even though it may feel really sad.
“Those two things can’t both be true!” said Ted.
“No they can’t. Not if the universe is sane.”
Ted dropped the baseball bat. “This is stupid.”
“Yes, it is. Absolutely,” said Phil. “But for now, I want you to embrace this stupid okay?”
Ted’s face softened.
Ted growled as he held the other bat in his left hand and fully accepted that life was empty of soul and pointless.
They went back and forth from right to left a few times with Ted squeezing the truth of soul and the truth of no soul with the baseball bat as the object of each immutable idea.
“Okay Ted, now take BOTH bats and extend your arms in front of you. Touch the bats like this.”
Phil held both bats in front of him arms extended with the bats making an “X” shape touching each other and gave the final instruction.
“Imagine these two truths are like magnets opposing each other and that you have to force them together. They both destroy the other, but you force them into being in unity even though their unity will create insanity. And then, be the true you anyway.”
Phil gave the bats to Ted.
“And growl,” he said, “You gotta growl. You won’t be able to hold this for long Ted. These two bats will fatique you quickly with your arms extended. You can’t hold them forever, but you can FEEL them and the truth about insanity that comes from forcing them together.”
“I’m going to time you,” said Phil. “Hold the opposing bats until I say stop. When you get tired growl even more. If you feel helplessly sad growl ESPECIALLY more. Growl until you roar.”
Phil looked at his watch.
Ted extended his hands touched the bats and his face showed the strain.
Phil started pointing to each bat one at a time while Ted strained to hold the X and shouted their polarity.
FORCE THEM TOGETHER TED AND STAY FIERCE!”
Ted started to growl.
“Thirty seconds to go Ted.”
Ted growled more. Holding the bats was becomming unbearable.
“Twenty seconds Ted.”
“Ten seconds left.”
Across the park a couple was strolling wistfully when they heard the sound of a roar shaking the trees.
“Wow!” said the woman. “That sounds like the roar of a God.”
“Huh,” said the man, “It sounded to me like the roar of soulless nothing.”
“We both can’t be right!” they said together and laughed.
“Jinx!” she said pointed at her beau.
Two baseball bats hit the dirt and Ted looked up fiercely at Phil.
“Be and be not,” he said.
“Be and be not,” said Phil.
Ted looked up at a late afternoon moon.
“She’s gone forever and lives forever.”
Ted left and Phil walked to a tree and started tapping morse code onto his wrist watch. He went home and the doorbell rang.
“Sir, I don’t know why, but I feel it would serve the good of the Universe to give you a large vegan pizza.”
Phil thanked him and gave him a tip worth more than the price of the pizza if it wasn’t free.