“I Get Knocked Down, But I Get Up Again”
The last time I held a baseball bat, with any seriousness, was May 1990. I remember because of what I didn’t do. I remember because years of my life came to focus in that one at bat, that one moment where I expected to succeed in ways that I had succeed before.
I remember the last swing I took. The slow spin on the ball as it came out of the pitchers hand. The slight movement of the outfielders as they came set. The knee-bend of my teammate sliding off second base. The quick lock of my back knee, just before my hips swiveled, and the milli-second of recognition…panic…that I was going to miss the ball because of it.
My bat dragged through the strike zone, slowed by that near imperceptible flaw in my swing. My shoulder dropped, pushing the bat into a downward elliptical. Before I could stop, the ball floated harmless into left field. Settling into the outfielder’s glove.
For everyone else at the park that day, it was simply a routine out. For me, as I left the tying runner on in the sixth inning of our playoff game, I knew that it was over. My life in baseball was over.
I spent the first year of college in a daze. Alone and unknown. Struggling to figure out who I was going to be. Who I wanted to be. Who I had the potential to become.
I didn’t know, and I didn’t know how to know. Everything that I thought I was disappeared the day I hit the fly ball. Now I was in a world where nobody knew who I was, nobody cared about my baseball team, and nobody seemed particularly interested in getting to know me.
Which, of course, said more about me than them. I spent too much of my time wondering why I was fading into oblivion and almost no time trying to find my way through the woods. I retreated into my own head, pulling away from everyone. My life reached a point where I found it nearly impossible to leave my room.
I would spent hours staring at the mirror, horrified at my own existence. At the emptiness that stared back at me.
I was nothing because I couldn’t answer one simple question about myself.
Eventually I figured it out. That thing that I was going to be.
Actually, I embraced it. I think I’d always known. I just never got around to allowing myself the hope. Way too much pressure with hope. I’d already had one lifetime dream taken away. The older I got, though, the easier it was to see that as a child-like dream.
Also, the dream was over. So it’s much easier to leave those behind.
Despite my best efforts, that hope grew. Directionless and with no guidance. I knew nobody who did what I wanted to do and had no idea where to start. In lieu of a path, I did what I always do: leaped into the woods and started hacking away.
There was no time for distractions along the way. Nothing could deter me from where I was going even though I had no idea where that was or how long it would take.
Along the way, I forgot that sometimes you can skip the game. Sometimes there are more important things than the game.
I mention all of this because it’s really never too late. At least that’s what I tell myself even though I know that sometimes time has an unfortunate way of slipping like sand between our fingers.
I don’t think this is that, though.
This isn’t about a girl. Or about anyone really. It’s about me and the decisions I’ve made over the years, all of them since the day I missed that curveball. The day the thing that I thought I was going to be disappeared into the ether of space-time, into a future I wasn’t going to have.
Since that day, I’ve been frantically searching for the thing that I would be. And along the way I forgot to look for what that was. Instead, I’ve just plowed ahead.
But I know what it is now. I know what the thing is, the thing I’ve missed for all these years.
Will it happen? I don’t honestly know. I don’t think that’s what matters. I think I just have to go see about it.