Things were laid out pretty clearly. Summer vacation from school was three months. I had one bicycle to ride to town. Softball games were twice a week. In each game you got up to bat 3 to four times. You knew the amount of opportunities, and you had to make the most of them.
It’s not so clear as you get older. You don’t know, “will I go here again?”, “will I see them again?”, “will I feel this way again?” The opportunity you’ve been waiting for, may come only once. And as I think about it, I suppose they don’t really “come” at all – these opportunities. We have to make them. Find them. Create them. Invent them. And that sounds frightening at first, but if you’re not “waiting” — if, in fact you are creating it, then you probably won’t miss it. And I don’t want to miss a thing. This moment. This day. This feeling. I want it all.
I was maybe only 10 or 11 years old. It was the one softball game my brother came to see me. I was so nervous. I wanted him to be proud of me. I got up to the plate. Rhonda Steen was pitching. I hated her (only as a pitcher – as a girl, she was delightful.) She was impossible to hit. Why, on this one time, this one visit, did it have to be her? My sweaty palms clutched the aluminum bat. My knees shook. Strike one. I didn’t move. Strike two. I didn’t move. I looked back through the screen fence at my brother. She let go of the ball. I watched in slow motion as it rose above me, behind me, right in the zone. Strike three. I slunk back to the dugout. It was a terrible feeling. And really, up until this point, quite unfamiliar. I was a good hitter. Usually a home run every game. But nervous, worried, this time, this opportunity, I didn’t take my shot. He didn’t have to tell me, “Better to go down swinging,” but he did. I already knew. I never wanted to feel that way again.
Challenges arise every day. New country. New language. New family. Of course I’m still nervous. I still get worried. Scared. But I’m swinging. With all my might, I’m swinging!