Monday, January 28, 2008

could i have been anyone other than me?

recently i've been complaining to my nerdy neighbors* at television without pity about the complete catastrophe that is friday night lights season II. my specific gripe about the current season is that it lacks a compelling, overarching metanarrative** such as the "win state" theme that dominated the first season. on account of the missing meta, the stories of the players, families and townies that once converged so beautifully have devolved into trite stories that add little if anything to the Story of the town and its team.

i mention this because i've been musing about my personal meta lately.

for the first quarter century of my life baseball was not merely a my consuming passion, but it provided the narrative framework by which i understood, evaluated and envisioned my life. although i rarely, if ever, mention it here as a kid i played a lot of baseball and played most of it poorly. i think that if i had not understood the fundamentals of hitting or been able to break off a nasty curve, the story of baseball wouldn't have held much sway. but, alas, at twelve years of age i could explain the fundamentals of rod carew's swing, was learning to i set up the heat with the circle change and yet had still found a way to fail my way through almost every level of little league and competitive ball. i had a beautiful swing, but couldn't stay in the box for fear of the ball. likewise, my fastball had plenty of heat and not a little hop, but i could never control my mechanics or my raging temper, long enough to pitch with anything approaching consistency. i loved baseball more than any of my peers, but by the age of thirteen i realized i was a van poppel-esque pitcher whose stuff would never pan out. for this reason, i internalized the story of the failed prospect, found myself umpiring games while friends starred on varsity and doubted that i would ever excel at something that i loved.

fortunately, over the past five years, i've finally started to accept a new meta for my life. now, instead of considering myself a failed prospect who will never be able to turn tools*** into results, i've received a new meta, that of a servant, and have begun to suspect that i have the ability to successfully live this story out.

don't get me wrong, far more often than i would like to admit i still fixate on the few moments when my deuce was dropping for strikes, i had enough emotional control to sustain my mechanics and standing on a twelve inch mound felt like straddling olympus. in those moments, i grieve for my inability to succeed at the game i love so much and still feel like the prospect who will always find a way to fuck things up.

but, thanks be to the God, most days i am focused on the new meta that stretches before me and i somehow find the strength to scribble my way forward.

* and pretty much anyone else who will listen.
** or, as the cool kids at twop call it, a "meta."
*** be they of a baseball, academic or pastoral nature.

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