------ As I took my
place in left-center field at the start of the softball game I couldn’t
help but notice the mystical effect the weather seemed to create.
It was one of those damp autumn evenings when sounds seem to carry
for miles. The air was cool and damp and visibility was low. Some
people might find that type of atmosphere dreary or dank, but something
about it seemed to lift my spirits. I was ready to play.
------ In the top of the first inning,
the first ball of the night came my way. It was a line drive that
was hit directly at me. Seeing its low trajectory off of the bat,
my first impulse was to charge, but after the first step I realized
I was in trouble. I turned around and broke for the fence and raced
as fast as I could while the ball sailed just over my head and rolled
to the fence. After I picked it up and threw it to the infield,
the left fielder called out to me, “That ball just wouldn’t
come down.” My disappointment at not making the play quickly
went away as a strange feeling came over me. Somehow the mysticism
I had imagined when taking the field came alive in the flight of
that ball. I felt strangely inspired and alive.
------ As the third out was registered
and I began to make my way toward the dugout something came over
me and I decided to “meditate” my way there. I’d
never even remotely tried anything like this. As I jogged toward
the infield I recall breathing in rhythm with each step in an effort
to quiet my mind and focus on absolutely nothing. I knew I’d
be able to avoid others, as I would be leading off. I quickly threw
down my glove, grabbed the bat, and moved to the on-deck circle
before anyone had a chance to say anything to me.
------ As I took my warm up swings
I tried to breath in time with each swing. The umpire called me
to the plate and I recall being very relaxed. I did not try to see
or think anything as I moved toward the batter’s box, but
suddenly a vision came into my head. The image did not come to me
in real time; instead it was a sudden burst. The image was of the
ball coming off of my bat and streaking over the right-center fielder’s
head in the same manner the ball had gone over mine.
------ As a stood at the plate awaiting
the pitch I recall feeling very strange. As the pitcher let go of
the ball I saw it floating in the air as if in slow motion. It was
as if some Hollywood FX man had changed the speed and lighting to
create a surrealistic scene. The ball seemed to have a halo-like
glow and the pitcher, the field, and the other players seemed to
exist outside of the ball’s realm. I don’t recall telling
myself when, where, or how to swing, but when I did, the ball shot
off of my bat and streaked directly over the right-center fielder’s
head. It was exactly as I had envisioned it. I rounded the bases
and headed for home, sliding in just ahead of the relay throw. Suddenly
time seemed to return to normal and the sounds once again seemed
real. I looked at the ground and saw the ball spinning beside home
plate. I recall thinking how it reminded me of the license plate
that spun on the ground in the movie “Back to the Future,”
after the hero made his ascent into time travel. I truly felt like
I was in a movie. Had what I just experienced been real?
------ I ran to the dugout in amazement,
accepting congratulations from my teammates. I sat down on the bench
beside two friends and exclaimed, “I saw that!” I didn’t
know what else to say. I was in total shock. They asked me what
I was talking about and I tried to explain, briefly, leaving out
most of the detail. They just laughed and I wished I’d not
said a word.
------ Before my next at bat, I was
on deck watching one of the teammates who had laughed at me as he
attempted to keep the inning alive. When he was unsuccessful, I
realized I’d once again be leading off the inning. I grabbed
my glove and “meditated” my way to the outfield. When
the third out was registered, I wondered if it could happen again.
I tried to guard myself against disappointment, talking myself out
of trying to make it happen again. But something told me to let
go of judgment, "meditate" my way to the dugout, and let
go of any and all expectations.
------ As I moved toward home plate
I was just as relaxed as the time before. As I stepped into the
batter’s box I saw the exact same vision again. For some reason
I didn’t question its validity. Instead I awaited the ball,
saw the same strange Hollywood scene, and saw the ball once again
streak off my bat and sail over the same right-center fielder’s
head. This time there was no throw to the plate, I simply crossed
it and ran to the dugout, greeted by smiles, laughter, and high-fives.
But I guess I hadn’t learned my lesson. The two teammates
joked, “Did you see that?” What could I say? When I
told them I did, the laughter became even greater. For the rest
of the game they would taunt me, yelling a list of things that I
------ My third and final at bat would
not be a leadoff endeavor. I would not have the opportunity to jog
in from the outfield. As I sat in the dugout awaiting the opportunity
I tried to tell myself that I shouldn’t try to force anything.
The night had already been magical beyond belief, why press my luck?
But as I made my way to the on deck circle I couldn’t help
but give it one more try. I tried desperately to quiet my mind.
As I came to the plate, I received no vision and the scene lacked
the surrealistic luster of before. So I took the first pitch and
stepped out of the batter’s box to quiet myself. The second
pitch offered nothing out of the ordinary, so I took it as well,
scolded myself for willfully trying to make something happen. I
knew I had to let go. As I stepped in the box for the third pitch,
I saw a sudden vision of the ball flying off the bat and landing
in left field just inside the foul line. The pitch came in, the
surreal glow returned, but this pitch was more inside than the others.
The next thing I knew the ball was sailing threw the air, landing
in left field from exactly the same flight path I had envisioned.
As I came into third base and stopped, I was once again in disbelief.
When the two mocked from the dugout, “Did you see that, too?”
I just flashed them a “leave me alone” smirk. I wasn’t
about to admit that I had.
------ I don’t know what happened
that night. I’ve heard of and even practiced all sorts of
visualization techniques that sports psychologists and trainers
utilize. But somehow, the experience I had that night didn’t
completely correspond with such methods or endeavors. I decided
I’d try not to figure it out beyond the realization that anything
is possible when we push aside limiting and doubting beliefs. Now
the trick is to learn how to surrender those judgments as a matter
of constant routine. An error, two home runs, and a triple are nothing
compared to a lifetime of bliss.
© 2004 The Trill House