The better I understood most sports the more I enjoyed them. In elementary school the P.E. instructor, Coach Schneider, took great pleasure in teaching us through the sports. It took me a while come around to the subliminal lessons though. Early one year (I can’t recall which) he introduced my class to baseball. Every time my team switched from fielding to batting I ran in slower than my classmates so as to strategically position myself at the back of the batting line. Coach Schneider caught me, however, and the third time I did it he singled me out and pulled me forward.
“Now, why do you keep running back there?”
“Because everyone yells different advice to me and I get very confused.”
I would suspect that most people would love support and advice given so freely but the differing opinions only confused me when I was put in the small spotlight of batting position. I felt subjected and bombarded by too many expectations. All the shouting created an unpleasant noise in my head. When he smiled lines appeared around his eyes that distinguish his face in my mind even now. He escorted me to the batting position, set me up in a basic stance and then told me to ignore what everyone else was saying. All I had to do was listen to the voice inside, feel out my moment, and then adjust my position to optimize my own decision.
I missed the first ball.
I missed the second ball.
Oh, the ball failed to fly out across the field for a home run but it did get me as far as first base. The next challenge: making it around to home plate. Piece of cake, right? Each time someone else came to bat my heart pounded. Would the ball fly in my direction? Would a fielding team member catch it and tag me? Would I make it to the base?
Eventually I did make it all the way around the bases and cross home plate and as I became older I realized I was taking that first game too seriously. While Coach Schneider’s purpose was to teach us he also wanted us to kick loose and enjoy engaging our muscles. He taught us to use our bodies to power ourselves towards a goal. When we have a goal if there are people throwing their two cents in our jar the jar can get full. Its confusing having so many avenues to choose from and it doesn’t help if the influential people in your life are pushing you in different directions. Eventually that coin jar gets full and the coins are no longer noisy, they’re over flowing and burying you in a sea of copper and zinc. Coach Schneider was one of the first people who taught me to turn the jar into a tube – in one ear out the other as they say. No matter what people are going to have differing opinions and some people are going to push for you to do it their way but sometimes learning to trust yourself and choosing your own way can bring you success as well. So what if you strike out here or skin your knee there? Do you still want that goal? Well, get up off your butt and go stand over home plate. Learn from every swing you take at that ball, learn to hop between bases and fool the fielding team, and somewhere along the way you’re going to learn to hit home runs.
When I am writing a character who is struggling or confused or trying to negotiate with multiple parties I draw on experiences like these.
That is your philosophical thought of the week. Happy exploring!