The ol' ball game

Here we are, season six. Softball, baseball. I will attend at least 40 games over two months. While not compelled to cheer as constantly as in the early days, my appreciation of the game has only grown. I love watching my own kids, of course, marveling at their bravery, their skill, their good sportsmanship and understanding of being part of a team – but I also love watching the kids who have been playing even longer, who play with the innate ease of the natural athlete. The kids who make a difficult catch or a smash hit or who pitch strikes steadily, never losing composure or appearing to feel anything but a great confidence, making even the hardest plays look matter-of-fact. There is a grace to that style of play, an awareness of self and world meshed into the immediate moment: “I need to do this now” and so thus, it is done. Sometimes the play is dramatic – a fast throw to home, the catcher and runner in a blurry tangle, everyone holding their breath for the umpire’s call – and sometimes it’s routine – a whip of the ball from the pitcher to first base, warning the runner from taking a big lead off. What the kids always have is a rhythm, a style of play as fundamental and instinctive as breathing. To them, they’re probably just playing ball without thinking too much about it. For me, I witness these brief moments of physical poetry and feel my heart catch.

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