I played baseball for about fourteen years. From tee-ball up until I quit my senior year of high school, at which point I was riding the bench, caring more about academics and hanging out with friends before leaving for college, and in no spot to outrank the people playing in the same positions as me. They were more talented and worked harder, baseball being what they wanted to pursue in college and beyond, so they deserved the spots regardless of the rampant parental politics happening behind-the-scenes on our team. I later rediscovered the joy of baseball during college when my friends and I played intramural softball four years in a row, making it all the way to the championship, uh, semi-finals in our final year.
There were a lot of life lessons I picked up from playing baseball.
One lesson, the one I want to discuss now, involves keeping your eye on the ball. Hitting is a complex process involving a perfect harmony of movements; your joints and muscles and bones and mind and bat moving in conjunction at precisely the right time to connect the bat with the ball, to send the ball in a direction that’s away from any fielder. Without overly reducing the process, one of the most important parts of the hitting process is a seemingly simple task: keep your eye on the ball. You can only hit what you see, and keeping your eye on the ball keeps your head down to allow for a proper, smooth, and strong swing. If you take your eye off the ball, you’re going to miss 9 times out of 10.
In my life right now, I feel like I’ve been taking my eye off the ball, and I’m sure this is an issue many people are dealing with at this very moment, whether or not they’re conscious of it. I’ve been letting distractions get in the way of my pursuit of growing, learning, writing, exploring new ways to express myself through artistic means, and exploring enough of life to ensure I stay excited, inspired, and fresh, and helping others along the way.
Sometimes it’s the distractions on the benches, or the field, or the stands that cause you to take your eye off the ball. The hypothesized (or real) snickers of haters and doubters on your own team who want to, or expect to, see you fail. You want to move your head and throw the bat at them, or take the time and pleasure in running over and beating them silent. Sometimes it’s the distractions in your own mind, the doubt, the memory of other people advising you about how to best hit the ball and what you should be doing, the fear of failure, the memories of previous missed swings, the shame in allowing minutiae and external circumstances dictate your performance, the confusion of it all.
Don’t get caught up in the distractions, they’ll always be there. Keep your eye on the ball and knock it out of the fucking park.