Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Play Ball!

I was at a Buddhist meeting the other day and we were asked to create a bucket list. The inspiration for this exercise came from the movie, The Bucket List starring Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson. In the movie the main characters create a list of things they want to see and do before they die (or kick the bucket).

I’m a big list maker, so I quickly wrote:

Publish my book, Erase Negativity and Embrace the Magic Within
Sell my screenplays
Hit a home run in softball

In my more expanded bucket list I jotted down a few thoughts about improving a few relationships, as well as a few more altruistic goals, but the three that are listed above were the first ones that came to mind. I suppose I could have wished for world peace of something like that, but I wanted to be honest with myself, as well as with those who were with me at the meeting.

The book, which is still a work in progress, is a burning desire that I’m confident will come into being. It’s just not happening as quickly as I would like. I have my timetable and the universe has another. I can get annoyed that things aren’t going quickly, but it’s a bit like shouting at a rosebud to hurry up and bloom. Things take time.

Unlike the book, I’ve been hammering away at screenplays for several years. My first project was conceived when I was 19, but I didn’t complete it until I was in my 20s. During that time I took classes, went to seminars, paid a script analyst to look it over, followed by additional revisions based on his suggestions. In retrospect, while the script, Vanishing Dream, had some great lines and moments, I can honestly say the screenplay will not be made. Nor should it be. It stinks. But that’s okay, I learned a lot while I wrote it. It served its purpose and now it’s behind me. Not every experience or endeavor is going to reap magnificent rewards. It’s all a part of the learning process.

Last on my list is my goal of hitting a home run. I played softball in junior and senior high. I was mediocre at best, but I enjoyed the game and the camaraderie of team sports. I would fantasize about smacking a grand slam and scoring the winning run in a tournament. I would cross home plate, and the entire team would welcome me with cheers. It never exactly happened like that. I did come close, once, but that’s another story. The fact is, I never did hit that home run in the prime of my youth. Sometimes when I’d reminisce, it made me a little sad about this unaccomplished feat.

But when I turned 50 I began to play ball again. I currently play on a senior softball league for women. I have no delusions. Just like before, I’m a mediocre player. However, I’m basically healthy, I haven’t had to have any hip or knee replacements (don’t laugh, a lot of the gals in the league have and they play in spite of it) and I love playing. It makes me feel like a kid again (except afterward when I’m sore and have to soak in the hot tub).

Since I’m not a big or strong athlete, I know that it isn’t going to be easy for me to hit a home run. I usually hit the ball to short stop, or sometimes center field, and I have to run like hell so I can beat out the throw. A lot of the times I make it, throw my hands in the air in victory, while my teammates cheer. If the first baseman makes a bad throw, I can make it to second base. They usually won’t make a bad throw to second, but if they did, I’d be ready to run to third. At that point I’d probably need to stop and rest a bit. But who knows, maybe my adrenalin would kick in and I could go all the way?

The thing is, it’s possible. Maybe it won’t be today (we already played and I only hit a single). But maybe it will happen during the tournament this weekend. There’s still time and I still have hope. Even if it doesn’t happen this season, there’s always next year. Heck, we have Betty, the oldest gal in the league, on our tam. She’s 80 years old and still going strong. If I stay healthy I could be playing for another 20, 25 or 30 years! With a decade, two or three ahead of me, chances are very good that I’ll master my swing and make that dream of smacking a “home run” a reality.

Upon reflection, I realize that even if I never hit one over the fence, I don’t have to be a slugger to earn a big hoot and a holler. My teammates cheer, wave and shout to each other in greetings just for showing up to play. As one spectator said to me one day, “Every day above ground is a good day.” This is the fourth year I have played in the senior league. Despite emotional setbacks, financial woes, illness or injuries, we all get out there and give it our best. And our best keeps changing.

Today, as our coach encouraged us to stretch to go after a hard-to-catch ball she said, “If you try, you might. If you don’t, you won’t.” It works that way in life too. So, whether it’s getting a publisher for my book, selling my scripts, or hitting a home run, I’m going to go after my bucket list with all I’ve got. And I hope you will create your own list and go for it too.
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Sunday, February 8, 2009

Boarish Behavior

Boars get a bad rap. At least that is my assessment after hearing an interesting story the other day.

I attended the wedding of a friend. I didn’t know anyone except the bride and my spouse, CB. As we waited to go into the reception area, CB and I chatted with a few of the guests. One nice couple lived close to the resort where the wedding was held. Eventually, the conversation segued to the beauty of the desert terrain and interesting wildlife that inhabited the area.

After a humorous tale about rattle snakes and swimming pools, one gentleman talked about how the entrance of his home became a makeshift maternity clinic. He described the scenario. It was a cold night and a pregnant javelina (wild pig) sought safety and warmth to deliver her baby. The mother lay near the front door, protected on three sides by the house. The remaining side was open. However, nine other javelina came to the rescue and formed a semi circle in front of the pregnant sow – offering protection and warmth. Once the sow delivered, the boars went on their way back into the desert.

I found this story very inspiring. In my mind’s eye I envisioned these hairy beasts lying on their sides, the vapor of their breath rising in the night air. It must have been very reassuring to the pregnant sow to have her comrades at her side while she brought her little one into the world. I had no idea that javelina had such a cooperative nature. I usually think of boars as rude, selfish and uncaring. In fact, I can’t even tell you how many times I have heard the word “boar,” or a derivative, used to describe unsavory behavior and characteristics.

I also thought about how inspiring it was to hear this simple tale. Rather than a superficial discussion of the weather, it was refreshing to hear a story that offered hope and inspiration. If boars can work together in a cold and dangerous situation, then surely human beings can too.

As the wedding festivities continued throughout the evening, we talked to a variety of individuals. One woman spent several years teaching brain-damaged children to swim. Another couple (who had been married for 60 years) shared the secrets of a long and happy marriage. We applauded as a five-year-old boy provided dance moves that were just as entertaining as “Dancing with the Stars”. It was an incredible and joyful evening.

The next day I did a mental recap of the previous night, it occurred to me that wonderful events like this are not unique. They take place every day. In contrast to the numerous reports I have heard about how marriages are failing, I witnessed several happy couples (many who had been married 40 years and longer) dancing cheek to cheek. We talked to teachers, pet sitters, bankers and doctors who had found ways to make the world a better place.

These folks may not be featured on Oprah, hang out with Paris Hilton or make the cover of People magazine, but their stories are just as important as the depressing sagas reported in the media. In fact, I would suggest these happy stories are even more important because they provide us with laughter, hope and inspiration.

In our upcoming book, Erase Negativity and Embrace the Magic Within, we offer advice on how to develop an optimistic viewpoint. If javelina can work together to make a difference, than just imagine what human beings can do.

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