August 1957, The American Journal of Psychiatry, “Perception and Interpersonal Relations” by Harvey Cantril, pg. 126:
The story concerns three baseball umpires who were discussing the problems of their profession. The first umpire said, “Some’s balls and some’s strikes and I calls ‘em as they is.” The second umpire said, “Some’s balls and some’s strikes and I calls ‘em as I sees ‘em.” While the third umpire said, “Some’s balls and some’s strikes, but they ain’t nothin’ till I calls ‘em.”
One of my favorite stories is the story of the three umpires which was initially created by Harvey Cantrell in the American Journal of psychiatry August 1957. I interpret the story a little bit differently. I reimagine this story whenever I contemplate how I want to play this game of life. And the one thing that really makes life more understandable is to see it as a game. It helps if you have had some kind of experience with sports. Because you know that how you play any game has a lot to do with your physical preparedness, your frame of mind or attitude, the vibe of the moment and how you interpret that moment.
So with this in mind, I define the first umpire as the one who follows the rules. And the rules are predetermined by others before him/her who have decided what the rules of this game are to be. So let’s just say the first umpire calls the game of his or her life according to the rules established by someone else. In our case, those rules may be pre-established and interpreted for us by our parents, other authority figures, our culture, our tribe, society at large. We basically teach our children to do this so they fit in and of course as adults we always have these rules available to us. Maybe the rules of the past we inherited.
I define the second umpire as the one who follows his or her own rules. And these rules have been determined by his or her experiences in the past. This past experience is a syntheses of what has worked and what has not worked with regard to those pre-established rules and a personal sense of success in the game. So to say “I call them, as I see them" means I am perceiving any moment of the game through the lens of my past, within the vibe of the moment, and calling the play accordingly. I sort of like this because I believe I have a certain amount of freedom and flexibility built in it. However, It might be my past experience my vibe of the moment.
Now the third umpire is a whole other being. The third umpire lives in the rare air or the realm where he or she assumes 100% response-ability for not just for the call of the play but the game itself. “It is nothin’ till I call em. “ I am the cause, the creator, the one who declares the game and calls the play. So without the agreed-upon rules, without the lens of my past experiences. I declare the game of my life and each play I make free from the past with total responsibility in the present.
If it isn’t there – create it.