Kara Swanson's Brain Injury Blog

August 9, 2015

Batter Up!

Filed under: Uncategorized — karaswanson @ 11:03 am

Last week I was so looking forward to my niece’s tournament softball game.  I was so excited to see her enjoy one of the sweet gems of childhood.  Kids running around in wonderfully-colored uniforms, hearing the sing-song chants of terrifically-hopeful teammates, cheering each other on.  The smell of hotdogs in the air, warm sunshine on my face, the crack of the bat and the sound of the encouraging parents rooting on their youngsters.  8-year-olds being free and happy and learning wonderful lessons of sportsmanship and team work and feeling their budding potential shine in the afternoon sun.

Ahhhhhhhh……

Uh oh.

Crap.

I stood behind home plate and I was privy to a close-up look at how different two groups can shape this experience for their kids.  Thank God my niece’s coaches and parents were supportive and upbeat and letting those girls just play.

The other side, uh….not so much.

This poor kid gets into the batter’s box.  Mind you, she’s 8.

I counted five people yelling at her.  Three coaches and both parents.

MOVE UP!  MOVE BACK!  DROP YOUR SHOULDER!  LOOK READY!!  RAISE YOUR SHOULDER!  EYE ON THE BALL!  MOVE FORWARD!  BEND A LITTLE!  STAND UP THERE STRAIGHT!  STEP OUT!  STAY IN THERE AND HIT!   YOU DON’T LOOK READY!   LOOK LIKE YOU’RE READY!  TILT YOUR CHIN!  TURN YOUR HEAD!

The poor kid had eyes like ping-pong balls.  You could see them, darting back and forth, trying to listen and be a good kid and trying to do everything being screamed at her.

At one point the mother yelled, “Move up!” and the father, on the other side of me, shot back, “I just moved her back!”  The mother snarked, “Oh really!  Like that’s gonna help her!” and back and forth they picked and pinched.

The ball went by three times and she never swung.

Strike out.

She walked back to the bench and sat there with her head down, short little legs swinging on the too-high bench.

The coaches and parents were disappointed in her.  I wanted to scream at them, “Way to go, ASSHOLES!”

LOLOLOL

It surprised me like not at all that my niece’s team won handily and moved on to the tournament championship.  I felt so sad for those girls on the other team.  Not because they lost.  But because they didn’t know if they could win.

They didn’t know if they could win.

We can all stay in school forever.  We can go to high school and college and then get our Master’s and then on to another Master’s and maybe a Doctorate…

We can read all the books and articles on recovering from brain injury or whatever we have suffered.  We can go to support groups and imagine things better and think perhaps we can take a new step.

We can read books about relationships and take classes and go to therapy and talk about relationships to our friends and imagine them in our minds and listen to romantic songs and watch romantic movies.

We can stand in the batter’s box of life and listen to everyone tell us how we should be and how we should change and how we should stand and move and tilt and turn and get in and get out and get up and get ready.

But, at some point, we gotta swing the flippin’ bat.

At some point, we just gotta get out there.  We gotta risk getting our hearts broken, risk forgetting something in public, risk striking out…

Just for the delicious reward of doing.  Of daring.  Of listening to our own voice and really hearing it.

Batter up.

At some point, we have to dare ourselves to accept the responsibility that this is OUR time at bat.  The result of this time at bat, our life’s effort, is going to reflect on our scorecard.  The hits and misses will be ours alone.

We can listen to everyone’s advice.  We can try to please everyone.  We can jump through everyone’s hoops until our heads are spinning in circles.

Or we can listen to our inner voice.  We can develop our inner strength.  We can choose to believe that we are strong enough and smart enough to go forward and realize that failure in any of those efforts doesn’t make us anything but ready to try again.  To try a different way.

It’s time to swing the bat.  To trust in all that we’ve learned and all that we’ve researched and all that we’ve experienced.   Enough to dare to strike out.  Enough to dare get a hit.

You have an inner voice that gets drowned out by all the chaos and noise around us.  For all the advice that anyone gives you…for all the opinions and for all the dictates and mandates…

In the end, nobody really cares what you do and I say that as a good thing.  People just want to see you happy.   They want to see you take care of yourself.   They want to see you independent and strong and fun and engaging.

Just go swing the bat.  Let the cautions and fears be damned and go let the big dog run.

You won’t know if you need more knowledge, more savvy, more practice, more courage, more anything….unless you test it out.  Unless you measure your progress.

Striking out only means that the pitcher was better than you in that at-bat.  Not for a whole life.  Not for a whole season.  Not even for a whole game.

Getting your heart broken just means that you were with the wrong person and you still need to shape up your choosing and matching skills.  Failing at anything is just a signal that there is a turn coming up ahead in the road.  It’s just letting you know that the right person, the right job, the right anything you want is not on the road you are traveling.

There are a trillion roads.

And thank God we are the ones behind the wheel.

Let’s allow our kids to just play.  Teach them in practice and then let them swing.  Let them strike out and let them get hits and let them fail and succeed.   But let’s take our hands off and put it in theirs.

Summer is racing by.  Soon the diamonds will be silent.  The chalk lines all will fade.  The benches will clear for the last time.  Bats and gloves and cleats will give way to new school clothes and new sports and new equipment.

How far along are we?  Each?  How far along are we in the summer of our lives?

We may as well give it a go.

Swing and miss.  Foul it off our big toe.  Pop up to the catcher.  Dribble it in front of the plate.

Maybe we’ll just go up there and tug at our cap and dig into the dirt and set our jaw and knock it right out of the park.

Let’s knock it right out of the park.

Batter up!!!

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2 Comments »

  1. Kara, as always…loved, loved, loved your post. It is our option to choose to sit on the bench. Or, we choose the better decision to let ourselves see past all the excuses and just swing that bat. We might miss the first pitch (or second or third) but so what?? At that point, we just find ourselves blessed with another opportunity to try again and find ourselves lucky enough to watch that ball sail out of the park. This very minute of the day is really the only minute we have. Thank you for teaching me to savor every single moment of this beautiful life. I hope your Summer has been your best ever and that you are looking forward to a spectacular Fall!

    Jean

    Comment by Jean — August 13, 2015 @ 9:37 am | Reply

  2. Your energy and wellness comes right through your note. I think you knock it out of the park every time you step up to the plate. xo

    Comment by karaswanson — August 16, 2015 @ 10:18 am | Reply


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