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Curveballs

Imagine this:

Your team is down by one run. It’s the bottom of the ninth. Two outs. Tensions are high. Standing at home plate, you tap the bat a couple times on the white plastic. Sweat drips down your nose. You look the pitcher in the eye, waiting for the ball to release.

You see the ball- you freeze. Hopefully, it’s out of the strike zone-

Steeee-rike One!” The Umpire calls, his voice echoing beneath the helmet and across the field.

It’s ok. You adjust your hands, lining your knuckles up. Your feet shift. The catcher tosses the ball, throwing it above your head. You prepare for the next pitch. You watch the ball come toward you, and swing, hearing a loud crack. The ball floats high up into the air behind you, landing in the bleachers.

Foul Ball!” The Umpire grabs an extra baseball from his uniform, and tosses it to the pitcher.

That’s when you recognize- the ball seems to be dropping all at once.  You have to choices: you can decide that hitting this next pitch will be impossible or you can try anyway.  You think about it. You’re nervous. The team is depending on you. This is the first game of play-offs. What if you miss? What if your team is relegated to a short and unsavory season? It will be all your fault.

Decision time. The ball leaves the Pitcher’s hand. Time feels as if it is going by in slow motion. You know you can hit the next ball; you know the timing has to be just right. The tension inside your chest builds, and you take a deep breath.

You’re so busy thinking about how the last strikes happened, the pitch whizzes past you-

“Stee-rike three!”

Your team loses.

Frustrated, you stomp back to the dug out and line up to congratulate the opposing team.

But, you never swung. The potential to fail proved more debilitating than the potential to succeed: in fact, the racing thoughts distracted you from seeing the ball race toward home plate.

And so, let’s rewind, and replay that scenario a little differently.

“Foul Ball!” The Umpire grabs an extra baseball from his uniform, and tosses it to the pitcher.

You don’t understand- the ball seems to be dropping all at once. Curveballs seem so impossible to hit! Now, you have two choices: you can decide that hitting this next pitch will be impossible or you can try anyway.  You’re nervous. The team is depending on you. This is the first game of play-offs. What if you miss? What if your team is relegated to a short and unsavory season? Then you remember:

You’ve hit this ball thousands of times before. If you just make contact, this curveball will turn into a home run. You straighten your stance.

The ball leaves the Pitcher’s hand. You take a confident swing.

You hear a loud CRACK.

And the bat in out of your hands, you are racing toward first base, the field around you in a constant blur, your cleats pounding the sand, you overrun first base.

What happens next doesn’t matter. You are no longer at home plate. You are running.

But you leave the game proud. Whether the team wins or loses, you know that swinging in spite of the tension, anxiety and fear lead you to a better outcome.

And, like baseball, life throws curveballs at you. Your choices will not effect the speed, position, or velocity of the ball. The only part of the game you have control over in any given moment is the reaction you have to the pitch. And, your powerful, perfectly-honed swing.

 

 

 

 

 

Preview Everything Thoughts on The Fly

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