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don’t look back, you can never look back

23 Aug

I played softball for eight years. My dad said I was a natural, but I didn’t have the heart. My sister was the opposite. I was a third baseman and a pitcher. If I was a good player, I didn’t know it. I knew I wasn’t bad, but I felt that most of my skill came from a sort of raging passion for something other than the sport. During practices if I missed a grounder, I’d lower my hat, put my glove to the ground, and open my stance for the next. I remember the tightness in my chest and the heat in my cheeks as I reacted in either direction depending on the ping of the bat. When games were close and I was at third, I’d play in and hope for a hard hit in my direction. I wanted the dirt on my clothes and the bruises on my shins, and a line drive down the baseline that I’d have to jump to catch.

At bat, I stood forward in the box and crowded the plate. I wanted the pitcher to be afraid to pitch inside. I wanted her to be afraid of me. When she’d throw one on the outside, I’d be ready and connect. I loved the feel of the ball hitting the sweet spot and pulling slightly to the left. I loved running through first and rounding toward second, and deciding quickly whether to get down and slide or not. And when the play was over, I’d stand up, dust the dirt off my pants, feel the blood pulse through my entire body, and know that I’d done well.

I don’t remember exactly when everything changed, but it did, and it was obvious. During my last two years as a player, I noticed myself standing further out and away from the plate when at bat. I hated going up to bat. Instead of trying to intimidate the pitcher, I’d give her a look that begged her not to bean me. I was terrified. I wanted balls instead of strikes so I could get to first for free.
On the field or on the mound, the fire behind my arm died down and my heart followed suit. I developed an intense pain in my throwing shoulder that I couldn’t shake, even off the field.

All I wanted was to be done. My parents didn’t want it to end, so when I was a freshman in high school, I tried out for the team. But nothing changed the fact that I was still in a slump and my arm was not in good shape, so when I made the varsity team, I quit.

That was the end of my softball career. I regret that I quit because I became afraid. I thought too much of how it would feel to fail, and stopped trying so as to avoid it altogether. I can’t help but feel that this is some sort of metaphor for the Big Picture–something I should learn from. But it is almost midnight, and I have to post this before the day ends, so I’ll leave the figuring to you.

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One Response to “don’t look back, you can never look back”

  1. Chris Kimoto August 24, 2011 at 5:18 am #

    i think you’ve got something there. The question is…are you going to do anything about it? I remember when you were going to challenge yourself (or actually accept challenges) to change, to be bold and fearless. Your life isn’t over, you can still do it. For what its worth, i believe you can…and besides you’ve got your biggest man cheerleader with you aye!? Ganbatte Jen.

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