Last week at baseball practice (for those of you who don’t know, I’m coaching JV baseball at my old high school – which is partly responsible for this being my first blog in more than a month), the head Varsity coach had his team, my team and the Freshman team kneel in the outfield.
Amid some frustrating struggles this year, the three teams combined are about 20 games below .500. Bias aside, we have the talent throughout the program to be well above .500 at each level. So, the coach gave a great speech on focus, desire and accountability.
One thing that really stood out to me was his mention of how fast time will fly; how fast their baseball careers could end. I made sure to reiterate that message to my JV team because it really hits home for me.
I mean, here I am, 27 years old, almost a decade removed from playing baseball for the same school, under the same Varsity coach, on the same home field. I’ve come full circle, but the last game of my high school career still haunts me (we lost in the playoffs, largely due to a blown call at home plate). I still remember the realization that my baseball career was over sinking in after that game.
It hits very suddenly. As a freshman or sophomore athlete, you think you have all the time in the world. Even if you’re realistic about your chances to play at a higher level after graduating, you think a few more years will last a lifetime. It doesn’t. Not even close.
And this is something that I’ve come to realize about life in general: it’s a blur. Think about it. How many adults have you heard reminisce on their pasts and wistfully discuss how time flies? How fast their kids grew up or how quickly advanced age snuck up on them.
When you really reach back, does high school feel that long ago? Even if your answer is “yes,” think about how long it’s been since you finished high school.
For me, it’s been almost nine years now. I’ve accumulated a lot of wonderful memories over those years, but in the more than 3,000 days that have passed since, how many have I wasted? Too many to count.
It feels insincere to instruct people to “live every day like it’s your last!” That would be awesome. Ideal. But it’s not really feasible unless you have unlimited time and energy, and basically zero responsibilities. That said, I do think we take life for granted quite often (guilty!).
This is exactly why I set out on that trip last year. It’s why I’ve been working towards making experiences part of my regular routine. And why I’ve been trying to marry my writing with my traveling.
I do not want to be the elderly relative commenting on a grandkid’s Facebook photo album (will Facebook still exist by then?) in 50 years, lamenting that I should have spent more of my youth exploring the world.
The average lifespan of an American right now is 79 years old. If that holds true, I’ve lived about one-third of my life. Many people I know have lived well over half of theirs. Have you done all the things you wanted to do? If you live your life at the same cadence you have for the first third, will you feel accomplished when it’s over? Like you left a mark on the world?
I take solace in the fact that 27 years is a long time. If I continue to make an effort, the next 27 could be many times more impactful than the first. But I don’t want to relax, because if I fall into that familiar routine those 27 years will fly by like a blur before I realize what’s hit me.
No, I’d rather keep trying to learn, write, travel and have fun with friends new and old, doing what I love to do.
I don’t want the missed opportunities to come back to haunt me. Because life, kind of like high school baseball, seems infinite until you’re standing in the dugout after your last at-bat, realizing it’s really all over.