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Friday, April 10, 2009

Time of My Life

There's a lot of negativity in the world and, if you let it, a lot to feel bad or anxious about most of the time. There are leadership vacuums, there's demagoguery, and, yes, there's the feeling that you can be a hamster on a wheel in the working world when your retirement savings have plummeted and there aren't great signs that the markets are going to recover in a big way any time soon.

You have choices, though, as to what you permit to have power over you. No one will argue that these are tough times -- they're tough for people all around us and around the world. But that doesn't mean we should stop living or focus too much of our energy on things we cannot control, such as the whims of politicians or the tides of the financial markets. We also have our friends and our families, and that leads me to a short vignette.

I took a half day off yesterday, and the weather in the mid-Atlantic region was terrific -- sunny, low sixties, not too much wind. After having a long, fun and relaxing lunch with my family, I took my daughter to our local softball fields to practice. We were the only ones there, and I spent about an hour and a half hitting grounders to her, pitching batting practice and helping her get more power into her swing, and catching her pitches. She's eleven, young for her grade in school but big for her age, and she has some physical gifts -- she's strong with a strong arm.

So there we were, just a dad and his daughter, playing catch, fielding grounds and popups, hitting and pitching. It was a great practice session on a beautiful day. We were patient with each other (sometimes parent-child coaching sessions don't go as smoothly as either participant would like), laughed, and worked on improving her game. We talked about situations in the field, we talked about the approach to pitching (read: you want to get everyone out, even if they sit next to you in social studies and are nice), and the approach to hitting (you want to hit the ball with power past the fielders, even if they once were in your Brownie troop).

My daughter is growing up, getting bigger, getting more focused. It was fun to see her reel off a string of solid strikes that wended their way over home plate with authority, although we both acknowledge she has a ways to go in terms of consistency. Likewise, it was fun at the end of our hitting session to see her lash two hard liners right through the pitcher's mound, causing a dancing-challenged middle-aged man to jump quickly to avoid getting hit. Again, there was improvement, with room for more.

At the end of our session, we gathered our belongings, talked about what we accomplished, and then headed to a local ice cream and water ice joint. When we walked in, we heard David Cook's "Time of My Life" on the radio. It's a moving song, Cook sang it on "American Idol", and the Phillies used it to accompany the last part of their 2008 highlight film. And then it hit me.

Right then, right there, that it's moments and sessions like these that we need to strive for more often. Just a dad and his daughter, on a beautiful day, playing softball. No crowds, lines, traffic, bad news, just the outdoors and two people doing something they like with people they love.

Because at that moment, I realized how special that afternoon softball session was to my daughter and me, followed by the reward of a refreshing treat. Right then and there, I was having one of many times of my life.

Remember those moments, look for opportunities to have them, and cherish every one of them. Because it's those moments -- and not measurements caused by factors that we cannot control -- that make life so worth living and so enriching. You can control many of the important things in your life -- just be sure that you take the time to do so.

Because then, not only will you be living your own life, but you'll be deriving much enjoyment from it too.


Anonymous Kip said...


Good for you!! And the best of luck to your daughter in the upcoming softball season...

5:53 PM  
Blogger Cardinalpark said...

Hey Sportsprof, I'm visitng from Tigerhawk. I don't know if you are a hockey fan, but if you are, I would recommend you check out the St Louis Blues. Don't ask me why I care, but they may be one of th best stories in sports that nobody knows about.

They were the worst team in hockey a couple of years ago, owned by disfunctional owners and run by jokers. After an unmatched 25 year playoff run, they were decimated.

3 years ago, new mgmt came in, and went with a youth movement and new coach. They started the year with optimism, but were crippled by injuries. They lost their most prmising young defenseman to a knee injury, their star winger, their captain and their best player (yes, 4 different key guys).

On Jan 2nd, they were at the bottom of the league and written off.

Since then, they've been the best team in the NHL. They've played with heart and enthusiam and skill. And to the shock of those who follow this stuff, they made the playoffs, even moving up to number 6 in their conference on the last day of the season (they clinched a playoff berth on the next to last day).

It is an extraordinary cinderella story punctuated by a blend of youthful skill and energy, veteran leadership and great coaching. If this were football or baseball, it would be THE sport story.

Sorry to troll on your excellent post about playing ball with your daughter -- you are absolutely right, we don't get enough of those moments as parents, and we don't enjoy them enough when we do --but when you commented about realizing something special as it happens, you made me think of the Blues.

Enjoy whatever season move you!


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