It’s the third inning of my softball game, I’m catching for one of the hardest throwing pitchers in my town’s league and I’m talking 80 mph windmill pitch for twelve-year-olds.
I feel honored to catch for her but each time I do I’m also scared out of my mind. This pitcher throws hard, fast and each pitch stings my hand as if I have been stung by a jellyfish. As the inning begins, the batter approaches the plate, and I’m not really paying attention, my glove is hanging out in front of me but I’m preoccupied by the crowd of people that have their noses sticking through the fence behind me.
Whenever this pitcher is on the mound the entire world stops, but before I had the chance to protect myself, or the plate, I see the ball whizzing from the pitcher’s hand, past the batter and BAM right into my chest. Her fastest curve ball yet, and I had no time to react. As fast as the ball is thrown is as fast as I hit the dirt. Wind knocked out of me, I hit the ump and I’m down.
When I finally have the courage to open my eyes it feels like I’ve been laying on the ground for about an hour, I gingerly touch my chest and thank God that I have my chest protector on. As I begin to focus I see 12 pony-tailed heads peering down at me screaming all sorts of things; within seconds, my coach swiftly walks over, parting my team like the red sea, he extends his hand helps me up and mutters “you’re okay, walk it off.”
And that’s what I did.
I walked it off.
I never shed a tear. I never moaned, never asked for a time out, I never got whisked off to the emergency room.
I walked it off.
Flash forward 30 years later.
I want the courage of my 12-year old youth. I want to not care about getting hit in the chest with life’s curve balls. I want the courage to take chances, hit the cover off the ball and not care about the outcome. I want that courage all the time not just when I’m at bat when bases are loaded and two outs.
More importantly I want to teach my children to walk off the unimportant stuff in life, the stuff that seems so important to them now, but in reality, doesn’t matter. I want them to realize that in life, looking at the big picture, not getting caught up in the nonsense, in the drama is more important than anything else. I want them to have the courage to step up to the plate – whatever that plate is – and try to knock the cover off the ball, because trying and taking that chance is more important than hitting a homer or striking out.
How do you teach a four and eight year old that?
I guess the only way is to show them every day that I can step up to the plate, and try and knock the cover off the ball.