The study of physics isn’t generally considered clubhouse material, but it seems that Kansas City’s sports teams have figured out how to apply Sir Isaac Newton’s first law of motion.
Alternatively called the law of inertia, it is Newton’s observation that objects at rest tend to remain at rest, while objects in motion remain in motion unless stopped by an external force.
The Kansas City Royals, in their gilded run to a World Series crown, had a different way of describing this principle.
“Keep the line moving,” they said.
String together some singles. Take a walk. Hope for an error. Steal a base.
Get something going and see what happens. Given what the Royals accomplished, it’s hard to argue with the results.
“Keep the line moving” became a meme around these parts. Restaurants adopted it as their mantra. At least one baseball fan had it tattooed on his arm. It exists as a Twitter hashtag, and is popular among Chiefs fans hoping that a series of small events will add up to something big for Kansas City’s NFL team also.
Actually, that might be happening. I was struck by something linebacker Dee Ford said to Kansas City Star sports columnist Vahe Gregorian after the team logged its eighth straight win.
“Just keep going,” Ford said, describing how the defense successfully gets takeaways. “You’ll find something.”
Right. Stay in motion.
Of course, motivational gurus have been onto this for years. The law of inertia is recommended as the cure for procrastination and writer’s block. It is the first step for losing weight and unleashing your inner artist. Just get started.
And in fact most of us apply the first law of motion every day, even if we haven’t considered a physics textbook since high school.
Most weekday mornings I set the alarm early to go to the gym. And most weekday mornings I really don’t want to get out of bed to go to the gym.
I don’t lie staring at the ceiling and whispering Newton’s law of inertia. But I tell myself, “Just do something.”
Get out of bed, get on a stationary bike or the elliptical trainer. I assure myself I don’t have to put much effort into a workout. But once I get started I usually go the distance. Objects in motion remain in motion.
One doesn’t need to look far to find folks applying the law of motion in quiet but heroic ways.
People come back from debilitating injuries by putting one foot slowly in front of another. People lose spouses or children and somehow manage to put together an altered but meaningful life, just by getting started.
This is the Christmas in which we are supposed to be fearful, on guard and angry. The last few weeks have seen terrorist attacks, mass shootings and a lot of blame being passed around. A political year is coming up (not that there are any nonpolitical years any more) and so we are distracted and divided.
Anyway, that’s what the polls and news reports tell us. And maybe it’s so. In my line of work I hear frequently from people who seem to be marinating in anger and fear.
But that’s not most people. Sure, there is plenty to worry about, but most people are busy going about their lives, getting a thrill out of a child’s first words, an upcoming wedding, a spectacular sunset or, in my case, new cats tearing crazily around the house.
We will walk into 2016 with varying degrees of anticipation and trepidation, but we have our template.
Keep the line moving, the ballplayers said, when the Royals were on the brink of elimination in the early going of the playoffs.
Don’t panic. Keep the faith. Get something going and see what happens.
It works! All the best in the New Year.