Baseball season is upon us! Spring is a wonderful time of year when everyone wants to be outside and outside wants everyone to come.
I remember baseball season during my junior year in high school. That was when my life philosophy experienced a paradigm shift. Springtime and baseball conspired and shifted my fatalistic perspective to a proactive pursuer of life.
Like the rest of the “jocks” in my rural Pennsylvania high school, I joined the baseball team. That was expected. I was in the group who played varsity sports, so I played baseball in the spring. However, baseball practice was boring for the outfielders, the position I was assigned to play. As I stood in the outfield waiting for something to happen, I couldn’t help notice how life was bursting out all around me. I wanted to explore my beloved hardwood forests that occupied much of my summer vacation. I wanted to fish for the trout that were swimming in Fishing Creek just beyond the right field fence. I wanted to take my shot gun after the turkeys that gobbled on the hill just outside my bedroom window. The more I stood in the outfield, the less I wanted to be there.
Slowly, it dawned on me that no one was forcing me to play baseball. I was choosing to play. Seriously, this was a revelation. I had not made a decision to play baseball. I played because it was expected of me. It was my fate. Fate might have brought me to baseball, but it wasn’t strong enough to keep me there when I got bored and longed for the exciting activities that were within reach. At first I did not know if I was allowed to not play. Wasn’t there some rule that required me to play? I asked my parents. I was shocked at their casual response. “No one is forcing you to play baseball. You can quit if you want to.” I still wasn’t sure, so I asked the coach if I had to play. He said I did not have to play, but I would miss a lot if I quit.
What I would miss by quitting was intangible. What I was missing by playing was imminently tangible. So I quit! Free…dom! I did not feel at all guilty, but I did feel sorry for the other guys who were stuck in the outfield while I was enjoying all the wonders of spring.
That experience became a life lesson. I have choices. I have a free will. I am not a victim of expectations or circumstances. I have considerable control over my present and my future.
With freedom comes responsibility, but that should be the topic of another blog.