I promise you this will not be one of those posts that will employ a trite, overused metaphor for life.
In the next breath, I promise you this post will be about fielding curveballs in life.
Before you groan and call me a liar, know there’s no better way to describe the things that come at us in life that force us to adjust our approach. Beyond the term “curveball,” I’ll leave the tired baseball metaphors to less discerning writers. Promise.
Many moons ago, my husband and I were on our way to the hospital, unexpectedly. After what was supposed to be a routine check-in during my last month of pregnancy, the doctor said he wanted to induce. He told me to pack a bag and head to the hospital.
My husband worked in the financial markets so you’d think he would be used to sudden changes in plan, but this one flustered him. He headed home from downtown Chicago, we got my eldest to his best friend’s house for an impromptu sleepover, and away we went. Until we didn’t.
Roughly halfway to the hospital, we stopped at a red light. And then—thunk—we were both jilted a bit by a car that rear-ended us. We stared at each other for a few seconds and then he said, “You’ve got to be f#*#*ing kidding me.” I burst out laughing.
I won’t bore you with the details (all three of us were fine, including the tiny one of us who had yet to make his official entrance into the world). However, our reactions to this curveball were so very different. I often tell my sons to pay attention to girls’ reactions to unexpected (and less than pleasant) events. They can tell you more about character in just a few seconds than you can learn in months of dating.
I believe the Universe has a sense of humor, you see. It never lets us take ourselves too seriously and when we do, it sets us straight.
Curveballs don’t have to be big events. My neighbor Wayne, for instance, recently purchased his first mobile phone. A retired man of a certain age, he is venturing into completely foreign territory here. I see him quite often lately, for this very reason.
I pull into my garage after taking my dog to the vet and there he is, standing next to my car within seconds. “How do I turn this thing on?” he asks.
A day later, he has moved on: “How do I answer the phone if it rings?” I try to explain it to him but he is confused so I call him so he can see how simple it is to answer. He seems relieved. The tribulations aren’t over by a long shot, though. I’ve seen him walking around his backyard, holding his phone and shouting, “I don’t understand why you can’t hear me. I can hear you just fine.”
I’m not sure what today’s question will be but when he finally ventures into internet territory, I have a feeling I should clear my calendar. Wink wink.
Wayne’s curveball may seem minute compared to what many of us are facing right now but to him, it’s pretty big. It’s the difference between being connected with his world and not. It’s all relative.
Given my druthers, I think I’d choose a life where every pitch was straight on (and here I go, breaking my promise about baseball metaphors). I want a fair pitch, one I can hit so I can run the bases in order. Instead, the curveballs in my life have either beaned me on the head or had me running willy nilly from home base to the outfield, the parking lot, and then back again to try for a homerun. Somewhere in there, I may or may not have hit the snack bar. You get the picture, right? Things haven’t quite gone as planned.
What I tell myself I believe is that God has bigger things in store for me than I could imagine. That running the bases in order is something anyone can do. That the adventure might lie, for me, out there in left field. And that, left to my own devices following the path everyone else takes in a game, I’d have missed the scenic route.
It certainly has been interesting. That I can say. I can also say that I have absolutely no idea of what happens next in this particular game of life. There are days I just want to sit in the bleachers and soak in the sun.
Whatever your curveballs are in life right now, you’re not alone. I get it. Sometimes the ump makes some pretty crappy calls. Sometimes you get beaned right on the head and nobody cries foul.
But I do think continuing to play the game beats becoming a spectator. How about you?
And now I’ll stop with the baseball bit for fear I’ve become a “less discerning” writer. I’ll let you be the judge.