Summertime brings about some of the best things we experience in life. The smell of a freshly mowed lawn, the sizzle of meat cooking on a hot grill, the refreshing taste of an ice-cold beer, and the chill of jumping into a pool are just a handful of the many things that tickle our happy senses in the summer season.
Attending baseball games is one of my favorite summer activities. There’s something about hearing gloves pop as the players warm-up in the outfield and listening to the echoes of fans murmuring across the stadium. Of course, the hot dogs, beer, and between inning mini-games are easy to enjoy but watching the game itself excites me the most.
I recently attended a Single-A minor league game with maybe a hundred people in attendance. The sights and sounds, or lack thereof, within the ballpark weren’t what I was accustomed to, but it allowed me to turn my attention to the players on the field. It was a blast predicting what pitches were going to be thrown next and explaining the ins and outs of the game to some of my less than knowledgeable friends. It made me pine for my younger years when I used to grace the field.
I was pretty good back in the day, not major league good, but good enough to earn some bragging rights amongst my peers and in the community. Every game I’ve attended as an adult, I’ve been unable to stop myself from regaling stories of the glory days to anyone who would listen; sometimes I’d talk about them even if they weren’t listening. Talking about them at this game felt different from it had during previous visits to the yard.
As I looked upon the faces of the players, I couldn’t help but notice how young they were—at age 29, they made me feel old. They were obviously far more talented than I had ever been but that didn’t bother me. What did start to itch at me as the innings passed and another beer was downed, was the fact that I’ll probably never step foot onto a field again, at least, not as a decent player.
The team looked so happy to be out there playing a game professionally, something I’ll never get to experience. I was becoming jealous of them and wished I could trade places with one of the pitchers and hurl a few fastballs to the plate while he sat at my desk and filed paperwork. Some of my regrets started to surface and I asked myself if I could’ve worked harder at my craft or if I appreciated the game as much then as I do now.
When the young lefty took the mound in the fifth inning, still throwing a respectable 91-mph fastball, the sun broke through the clouds and seemed to shine directly over him. It was clear in that moment why I was worked up and jealous—my moment in the sun was over and his was just beginning.
The greatness I experienced is fading into a distant memory as I continue to settle into an average life (there’s nothing wrong with that!), constantly searching for another day in the sun. The older I get, the harder they are to find and the significance I used to feel on the mound has been unmatched in most of my adult life. The hard work I put in to improve my skills as a player and the contributions I made to the team paid off dividends. Now, as a working adult, most hard work seems to be underappreciated or goes unnoticed, and there’s the feeling that these achievements are nothing special in a world that doesn’t care. Sure, there’s a sense of satisfaction at a job well done, but it’s hard to see the results like I did as a kid.
Pitchers are in control of the game. Winners and losers are mostly determined by the performance of the man who holds the ball in his hand. Back when I pitched, I felt I had complete control over everything except how the defensive players around me would perform. My destiny, along with the team’s, was in my hand. There has been no other instance in my life where I’ve felt control like I did then. Again, as I continue to grow older, the less control I seem to have.
Therefore, it is important to work hard for the things we love. We must leave no doubt of our efforts, so we don’t regret the past and continue striving to accomplish our dreams, so we can do what we want and not what we have to. Our sense of control, satisfaction and accomplishment, regardless of if we fail or not, will come at the end of our lives when we look back and can at least say we tried to give it our all. That way, instead of living in the past, we can celebrate the significance of the present and all the future moments we can bask our glory in the sun’s light.
Our days in the sun don’t have to end as we get older—they will remain so long as we strive to be the best we can be and continue working to perfect our skills at what we love the most.