It’s nearly midnight and I really should be asleep. There’s no guarantee the new puppy will sleep through the night and I have (of course) lots to do tomorrow. But I wanted to share something with you before I close my eyes.
I just finished watching Moneyball, a very good baseball film. We watch lots of baseball films in our house…and we have quite a little baseball library, too.
I love baseball. There’s something about the moment where one person is under the falling ball/batting with the bases loaded/pitching for the last out. If he catches it/gets a hit/strikes out the batter, he’s a hero. If not, he’s a total schmuck. It reminds me an awful lot of the writing life. Sooner or later it comes down to that…you and the great game. Will you score, or will you strike out?
I was too terrible at baseball to play softball in the long American summer breaks, but I had to play in school. Our PE teacher soon learned to frisk my glove for books. He was always urging us to run out every ball. I was placed far in the outfield, where my total absence of athleticism could do the least damage, but even so, a hit ball sometimes trickled my way. ‘Run for it!’ he’d scream.
Honestly. The other fielders were way faster than I was and could actually throw the ball once they’d caught it. Running after a ball I knew I couldn’t throw and taking it away from worthier teamates seemed stupid .
‘Why didn’t you run out the ball?’ the red-faced coach would demand.
‘I didn’t think I could catch it.’
‘Try! Run out every ball, even if you don’t think you’ll win it. One time you will, and it will all be worth it.’ I can see the poor man now, labouring to explain the concept. In vain, I’m afraid. I never, to my knowledge, ran out a ball.
That said, have a look at this Martha Graham quotation.
“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action; and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. If you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. You must keep that channel open. It is not for you to determine how good it is, nor how valuable. Nor how it compares with other expressions. It is for you to keep it yours, clearly and directly.
If that’s not running out every ball, I don’t know what is. I might not have listened to my poor PE teacher on the baseball field, but I certainly have taken his wisdom on board in my creative work.
Get in the habit of keeping the channel open and doing your work the best you can. Run out every ball, even the ones you don’t think you can catch. One day, you’ll surprise yourself and feel it hitting the palm of your glove.