I’m not one for baseball analogies, but here’s one—lately I’ve been fouling everything off. I’m standing in the batter’s box and taking pitch after pitch—sometimes it seems more than one hurler is standing on the mound—and I’m two strikes down, still hoping to connect or at least catch a thread of the ball so it goes foul and calls forth another throw.
That’s why I’m so grateful to have this break of a few days.
When I was in graduate school, my building had a primitive video game similar to the last scene of Star Wars. You flew along a groove, and alien spacecraft popped up over the horizon, firing at you. The idea was to kill them first, but you also received some points for time, for just staying alive. After wasting quarter after quarter, it occurred to me that I could play the game as a pacifist, not shooting at all until the target appeared. I became a master dodger, playing forever, scoring almost nothing, but surviving.
Lately life has been like that too.
On Thursday, my family—all of us—will be home for the first time in a long time, and no one will already have plans, and we will talk and laugh. Okay, maybe someone will spend a little time online or video-chat or watch television or plug into an iPod, but at least we will really be together and not standing in the batting box or gliding between opposing spacecraft, hanging on. We have a chance to live squarely, relatively undistractedly, head-on.
You can apportion your effort so many times everything seems a slivered percentage. The definition of relief becomes thinking about one thing, precious because, most of the time, nothing gets full attention or, if it does, only momentarily.
I play to survive.
Blame modern life, the perpetual over-stimulation that should get better this time of year and sometimes gets worse, but really it isn’t the movies or the games or the music or the television or the advertising or the compulsion to shop. And it isn’t preparing for class or blogging or grading papers or dealing with all the usual raining crap either. Any one of those parts could be manageable, pleasurable even, if they didn’t share one overheated brain.
“You’re too busy,” one of my friends says, “to enjoy anything.” Maybe the real trouble is thinking busy is better. Why do any of us believe that? Why do we need a Thursday in November as an excuse to rest?
I’m so tired of dodging, staying out of trouble’s way, making do with the slow accumulation of points.
Okay, some satisfaction comes of hanging on grimly and holding off the shameful walk to the dugout, but wouldn’t it be nice to really swing away, to feel the ball full-flush on the bat, see the sphere’s compression and the recoiling, shocked spring that sends it out of gravity’s influence? Then I could trot around the bases with nowhere else to go.
I’m so looking forward to relaxing and thinking about changed ways.