I haven't played sports in four years, this spring. Spring 2007 I played caught my last ball as a catcher in softball, took my last foul shot in basketball. I don't know if it is something that I necessarily miss, but it was always so nice to know that I had something. I was an athlete. I was bigger than me.
I have tried a lot of things in my life: surfing, horseback riding, dance, just to name a few. None of them stuck, though. At the end of each one of those failed attempts, I was a softball player or I was a basketball player, depending on the season. I was one of the fastest players on every team I was on, they called me agile, but had my fair share of injuries. Oh the number of times I sat in the bullpen or on the sidelines holding a bag of ice to some part of my body, longing to be back in the game. Every game hurt. Not just physically. Whenever you put yourself on the line, depending on others for your victory, it hurts. So many nights I went home aching in both body and mind, but no matter how hard it became, I kept going back.
There were times that I said to myself, "I'll never be behind the plate again," or "never again will I stand on that key." But something pulled me back every single year. It was not a competitive nature; yes, I played to win as anyone would, but that was not what was most important to me. Nor was it an undying love for the game. Every sport has its ups and downs and at the end of the day, I could usually only see the downs. It was my desire to feel something bigger than me. When you play in a high intensity game, you start losing sight of the reality outside of the field. In those hours, nothing mattered besides how far forward shortstop was playing and the crack of the bat.
"Perfection, that's what its about. Its those moments when you can feel the perfection of creation, the beauty of physics, the wonders of mathematics, the elation of action and reaction. And that is the kind of perfection that I want to be connected to."
I do not talk to anyone from any team I was ever a part of, to be honest. I am not great at keeping in contact and life moves so quickly in every direction that keeping up fades in comparison to simply holding on. I never even really had a strong connection to one specific person. But when you're together, working to achieve something...There is almost no stronger bond. The only experience that I have ever felt that challenged it was theatre, for which I gave up the athlete inside of me. But not even the emotional turmoil I experienced time to time on stage really compared to the physical struggle and emotional fatigue of playing sports.
Theatre is not something that I could ever regret, for it gave me more than I could have ever imagined. It filled the void that sports had left and gave me stronger bonds with other humans than I ever felt towards a team member. But whenever I watch a game on television or make my way to Safeco Field for a Mariners game, there is a definite pang that I can only interpret to mean that part of me never wanted to leave the field. My life would be so different had I taken that path.
Sometimes I just worry that nothing will ever give me the same simple satisfaction while I'm here. Yes, traveling fulfills me in every way, but that is not something I can do often enough to feel whole. Yes, it fills a part in my heart and soul that nothing else begins to touch, but in a world so large, in a universe so vast, I cannot help but think it will never make me feel a part of something in the same way. And even if it could, once more, it is not reasonable in funds, nor possible in a frequency that I require.I have always known what I wanted, even that day I decided to zip my bat bag up for good. That was the next step in my life and I knew that I would find fulfillment in other (metaphorical) fields. Now I am not so sure. Every option seems unlikely to give me such a feeling. I have never been so unsure about anything, except that the aching of body I use to feel after a game no longer persists, but the aching of mind, which no longer has ties to any sport, will not be cured. Not yet.