I doubt you would even recognize me tonight. This is Hot Toddy writing, but I am almost unrecognizable even to myself. The following sentiments are so foreign, so unfamiliar to me.
I just want to say that the best feeling I have experienced in a long, long time is the amazing vibration through my hands and arms as the bat hits the ball, and I watch it sail far into the distance - much further than I ever imagined I could hit a softball. I'm not joking. My hands were tingling and stinging after softball practice today, because, apparently, I am a decent hitter. The catcher, who has played on the league for a few years now, actually said, "I wish I could hit like that," after I hit the ball today.
That can't possibly be as much of a shock to you as it is to me. When I step up to the plate I can hear the derisive voices of my junior high and high school peers telling me I suck. The echoes of juvenile laughter ring through my ears, and I have lost the game before I even grab the bat.
But today was like living a dream. Some of the guys gave me some advice about where to place my hands on the bat. They warned me not to swing too early. They showed me how far away from the plate I am supposed to stand. And because they cared enough to teach me how to be better, I stepped into each pitch with a power I didn't know I had. They yelled at me to stop watching the ball and run to first base, but they didn't understand that I had to watch the ball fly through the air after I hit it. I could simply not believe I was the one who had hit the ball over everyone's heads, so I had to watch the ball fly through the air. I will have to work on that. Just hit the ball and then look away. I'm still trying to get used to the idea that maybe I won't be a big joke on the field this summer. Traditionally, I have not been that guy. I'm always the one who strikes out or just barely hits the ball with the tip of my bat.
If there is anything more exciting than hearing the crack of the bat as it smacks into the ball, I don't know what it is. Sometimes we tell ourselves who we are, and we draw lines in the sand and declare boundaries for ourselves. But those limitations are our own inventions. That is not who we are.
You only know who you are when you go outside the boundaries you have established for yourself. Can you believe I just said that? Who is this guy who plays softball and is a decent hitter? Who is this guy who catches a pop fly and then cheers for himself and does a little happy dance because he can't believe the ball stayed in his glove? This is me. Believe it or not, this is me.