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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