|Marty and me in 2011|
It’s hard to believe it’s been two years since my brother, Marty, suffered a 12-hour seizure that left him with permanent brain damage and short-term memory loss. He’s endured frustration and great sadness, but what’s gotten him through it all and helps him continue to accept and adjust to his new reality is his optimism and glass-half-full spirit, an unwaivering commitment to helping others, and his unyielding faith in the god he’s trusted all his life.
Marty began writing essays years ago and self-published a collection of 100 of them prior to his seizure. It took him awhile to “pick up his pen” again after that fateful day in June 2011, but he’s been honing his skills, and I felt the one I’m posting below is his most thoughtful to-date. His words really kicked me in the pants since I feel lately some of my “at-bats” have been wasted. Read on and see if anything he says resonates with you, too.
Swinging The Bat
Like many fans of professional baseball, I enjoy sitting on my patio on a nice summer evening listening to my favorite team on the radio. I also enjoy watching my favorite team on television, too. Whether my team wins or loses really doesn’t matter. Where they are in the standings doesn’t matter either. I still turn on the radio or the TV to catch the game when it is on. I guess you can say, “Hope springs eternal” among true baseball fans.
There is one thing I cannot tolerate in baseball. That one thing is lackluster effort. It annoys me to no end when a player goes up to bat and then strikes out without even swinging the bat. They simply stand there with a zombie…like stare and watch the pitches go by until the umpire calls them out. These are not wildly thrown pitches out of the strike zone, but perfectly hittable balls. Then they simply turn and head back to the dugout. What a wasted at-bat.
I’ve always felt that you go to the plate with a bat in your hands to swing at pitches to try to get a hit. Standing there and watching as the ball goes by is unacceptable. You only get three or four chances to hit during a ball game. Why waste those opportunities with the bat resting on your shoulder without at least giving it a go? You can’t get a hit or a home run without swinging the bat. I have no time for people who do not try.
Now, I don’t mind it when a hitter goes down swinging at the plate. There are times when a particular pitcher is good and he is “on his game,” so to speak. That pitcher is throwing good stuff that is tough to hit. It happens. He may be throwing some nasty curveballs or sinkerballs that would test even the best of hitters. But as long as you are trying your best to hit his best pitches and you still strike out, there is nothing to be ashamed of. You gave it your best. Who knows? You may get the best of the situation next time you meet him again. The point is you tried.
I find this to be like life. We are faced with challenges all the time. Life has a way of throwing fastballs, curveballs, and screwballs at us. What we do about these pitches determines what kind of people we are or will be. Do we just give up as we approach the batter’s box and determine beforehand to not even swing our bats, to not even try our best, as we watch those pitches go by? Or, do we resolve to try our best to grip the bat a bit differently or stand in the box a bit differently and take a hack at the tough pitches?
Ever since going on disability two years ago after losing much of my memory capabilities, I found it easy to get discouraged and even angry because of what I lost. It was also easy to just stand there at the plate and watch as those pitches went by. But, there are people and organizations that will not allow me to fall into that trap. They know that people like myself still have much to contribute and they are very good at helping people like myself to realize that and to…well…contribute.
Thanks to these people, I am swinging the bat. I volunteer twice a week at a local food shelf warehouse where I am very much needed and very much appreciated. I participate in a golf league and a bowling league for disabled people. I am not languishing around thinking about what I cannot do. I may strike out occasionally, but that’s OK. I may not be quite the person I once was, but that, too, is okay. As long as I am swinging the bat, my chances are much better that I’ll hit a double or a single.
What kind of person are you? Are you content to watch pitches go by as the umpire calls you out? Are you satisfied with lackluster and mediocre effort? Do you want to swing the bat and give it your best shot? We don’t have many opportunities or much time in life to turn things around. We need to start swinging our bats now! We need to give our best to life now! Tomorrow may be too late. We never know what might happen tomorrow. Ask me. I know about that.