Softball and Zen are two ideas most would think are mutually exclusive – fat guys drinking beer and flowing meditation. Sure the waistlines aren’t what they once were, and reaching down to grab a grounder isn’t easy, but we still play with spirit. Running is definitely harder. There is no gliding down the base path gracefully. It’s more like, “Is that guy walking? He looks like he’s in pain.”
When I was a kid playing baseball, the game flowed for me with spirit and ease. I never thought about hitting to right field or left as I stood in the batter’s box. I just did it.
I now play softball in a forty and over league. I’m a little, a lot, slower, and I think, a lot more. Playing left field the other night I dove for one that though my mind thought I was moving fast enough to catch, my body knew I was not. I came up about two feet short with only grass in my glove. As the ball skipped by me to the fence, I wondered what happened. Age is what happened. Deteriorated skills. Ego. The center fielder close by laughed and enjoyed that we are all moving slower as he picked up the ball and threw it in.
Errors are a given in this league. Laughter a must.
My instincts used to dominate my fielding and hitting. I never judged what I was doing. I just did it and did it well, moving like a cat to my left or right in the field. At the plate I swung the bat like a Titan. Emotion and ego weren’t involved in the process.
Now the ball comes fast and I wear glasses and sometimes guess where the ball is going. Many I get. Some I don’t. I have to learn to let go and be in the moment. Because when I worry about missing the ball, I do. However, sometimes I miss it anyway.
My ego is demanding that I do better. It wants me to be as good as I was.
I try not to think too much about the pitch or what field I’m hitting to, not to be in the past or worry how I will look if I strike out or miss a catch. I have to get up to the plate, wait for the right pitch, and swing the bat hard. I shouldn’t play fearing mistakes, but play for the joy, camaraderie, and laughter. I will try playing for the Zen and flow of the moment, the way I always did.