A 24th year review
*Disclaimer: I feel like it’s selfish to be writing about my life given the current American mess going on. I could write on and on about the atrocities that have already occurred and we’re less than two weeks into it! It’s a lot easier for me to push away my fear, anger, and incredulity about it all from half the world away. Especially when I have a dream to focus on. Regardless, part of me feels like I should devote a significant chunk of my energy to reclaiming American democracy from the grasp of CheetoVoldemort and his cast of comic-book villain cronies. On the other hand, perhaps this post, this blog, and my journey in baseball are all part of a larger narrative arc. Maybe I’m maximizing my long-run contribution to improving the world.
It was recently my birthday and I turned 24. That means I have been on the planet for 24 years. I’m entering my 25th year. Like the beginning of a new year, a birthday is a time for celebration and, on a more serious note, contemplation about your life. Though it’s best to periodically take time throughout the year to review what you’ve done, where you’re at, and whether you’re still on the narrow path towards your dreams, a birthday can be a significant chance to do so even if this kind of self-reflection is uncommon for you. When I was younger, birthdays were something I looked forward to eagerly as a chance to party and receive gifts. I wanted to be older, to gain the maturity associated with the new number attached to my age. Now, it’s kind of the opposite. Another year means the window of opportunity on my dreams closes a little bit more. Have I done enough in the past year to mitigate the natural closing? Am I still making progress on my intended path to greatness? Will I succeed in realizing my personal legend? Tough questions. Let’s take a look.
When I turned 23, I was throwing a ball, for the first time in three months, against a fence in sub 0 degrees celsius temperature, with snow on the ground, all the while not knowing whether my arm was healthy. I wrote a post about that struggle. I was alone, throwing into a gray fence, gray winter day after gray winter day. I was uncertain about my arm, whether I’d be able to throw a ball again without pain. Fast forward to now. I’m still throwing against a fence occasionally. Some things don’t change all that much haha (well, actually it’s a black rubber mat at the Montmorency field, which is heaps better for a baseball’s longevity). Most importantly: I’m throwing with a completely healthy arm in Australia! I’m playing for the Williamstown Wolves and we’re making a run at the playoffs. I ended my time as a 23-year-old exactly where I wanted to be. In the southern hemisphere, playing baseball, and living the dream. When viewed from that perspective, my 24th year was a tremendous success. I’m on the path that leads towards the realization of my personal legend.
That’s the simplified version. There have countless ups and downs over the past year. Many accomplishments, many failures, and perseverance that has required me to reach down into the deepest depths of my soul (Perseverance can be a lot of fun though, particularly when it’s 90s dance night on Fridays haha). It felt like it flew by, yet looking back, it’s hard to wrap my head around everything that happened. Weekend trips, urban adventures, transformational books, baseball games, cross-country moves, long-distance friendships, living in a new country, and the pursuit of greatness on the mound to realize my dream. Whew. A wildly fun ride.
I escaped to San Francisco for a weekend in late February and it turned out to be an adventure of a lifetime because of what I saw and who I was with, plus being a paradise relative to Madison in the dead of winter, beautiful San Francisco completely revitalized me. In early April, I completed my return to throwing program and pitched off a mound at full intensity for the first time since April 1st, 2015. I even threw a scoreless inning in my first game back on May 1st. I sprained the LCL in my left knee that day. I proceeded to injure my shoulder eight days later. I postponed my pilgrimage to the baseball ranch. I left my software job after 13 months. I agreed to play for the Williamstown Wolves in Melbourne. I moved back into my parents’ home in Maryland for a month. I made the pilgrimage. I left for Melbourne. And that’s where I find myself today. 24 years-old.
I can only hope the coming year holds as much in store for me. Early forecasts suggest it will. I know a grand trip to New Zealand is coming up. A summer playing and coaching baseball in Germany will be an incredible growth opportunity. The road to my goal of pitching a baseball 90mph (and wherever I want it, in any situation) remains long and uncertain. I still don’t know baby where I’ll be in a year. I do know one thing: when I turn 25 I want be standing on a mound as the ace of the club I’m a playing for, somewhere warm, where the sun is bright, and the gleam of my dream exalts higher than ever before.
Self-development focuses in 2016:
- Habit building/tracking
- Freedom from outcome vs. intent
- Healthy arm and body
Self-development focuses in 2017:
- Seven habits of effectiveness
- Deeper meditation
- Improving command and velocity
Trips this past year:
- 3 to the Twin Cities, MN
- 2 to Chicago, IL
- 2 to New York, NY
- 1 to San Francisco, CA
- 1 to Phoenix, AZ
- 1 to Houston, TX
- 1 to Sydney, AUS
- 2 to Door County, WI
- 1 week in the Outer Banks, NC
- 2 work trips to Topeka, KS
Places I’ve lived:
- Madison, WI
- ~Washington D.C.
- ~Melbourne, AUS
Books Finished in 2016 (I took detailed notes while reading the bolded/underlined titles):
- The Greatest Baseball Stories Ever Told – Jeff Silverman
- Biography of Ben Franklin – Walter Isaacson
- The Mindful Athlete – George Mumford
- Eat Move Sleep – Tim Roth
- Drive – Daniel Pink
- Iron John: A Book About Men – Robert Bly
- The Magic of Rapport – Jerry Richardson
- The Talent Code – Daniel Coyle
- Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance – Robert Pirsig
- Satchel – Larry Tye
- The Third Chimpanzee – Jared Diamond
- The Tipping Point – Malcolm Gladwell
Intended reading list for 2017 (12 in paper, 12 in audiobook)
- The Alchemist – Paulo Coelho
- Tantra for the West – Marc Allen
- The Story of Buddhism – Donald Lopez
- Unprocessed – Megan Kimble
- Tools of Titans – Tim Ferris
- The 21 Unrefutable Laws of Leadership – John C. Maxwell
- Way of the Superior Man – David Deida
- The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – Stephen R. Covey
- The Mental ABCs of Pitching – Harvey Dorfman
- Zen Mind, Beginner Mind – Shunryu Suzuki
- Wisdom of Your Subconscious Mind – John Williams
- A Long Walk to Freedom – Nelson Mandela
Audiobooks (A friend gave me a bunch. So very grateful for the gift!):
- Mastery – Robert Greene
- The Art of Seduction – Robert Greene
- The 50th Law – Robert Greene
- The 48 Laws of Power – Robert Greene
- Revolution – Russell Brand
- Quiet – Susan Cain
- Sex At Dawn – Christopher Ryan
- Start With Why – Simon Sinek
- The 4 Hour Work Week – Tim Ferriss
- The Personal MBA – Josh Kaufman
- The Neurobiology of We – Daniel Siegel
- The Attention Revolution – Alan Wallace
Selected passages from some books:
- Tipping Point -> Pg 85 – Howard Friedman, a psychologist at the University of California at Riverside developed the Affective Communication Test to measure the ability to send emotion, to be contagious. What does it mean to be a high-scorer? To answer that, Friedman conducted a fascinating experiment. He picked a few dozen people who had scored very high on his test – above 90 – and a few dozen who scored very low – below 60 – and asked them all to fill out a questionnaire measuring how they felt “at this instant.” He then put all of the high-scorers in separate rooms, and paired each of them with two low-scorers. They were told to sit in the room together for two minutes. They could look at each other, but not talk. Then, once the session was over, they were asked again to fill out a detailed questionnaire on how they were feeling. Friedman found that in just two minutes, without a word being spoken, the low-scorers ended up picking up the moods of the high-scorers. If the charismatic person started out depressed, and the inexpressive person started out happy, by the end of the two minutes the inexpressive person was depressed as well. But it didn’t work the other way. Only the charismatic person could infect the other people in the room with his or her emotions.
- Talent Code -> Pg 221 – Coyle likes looking at the electron microscope photo of myelin…because you can see each individual wrap, like the layers in a cliff face or the growth rings of a tree. Each wrap of myelin is a unique tracing of some past event. Perhaps that wrap was caused by a coach’s pointer; perhaps that one by a parent’s encouraging glance; perhaps that one by hearing a song they loved. In the whorls of myelin resides a person’s secret history, the flow of interactions and influences that make up a life, the Christmas lights that, for some reason, lit up.
- The Third Chimpanzee -> Pg 56 – But if the missing ingredient did consist of changes in our vocal tract that permitted fine control of sounds, then the capacity for innovation would follow eventually. It was the spoken word that made us free.
- Zen and the Art of Motor Cycle Maintenance -> Pg 304 – I think that if we are going to reform the world, and make it a better place to live in, the way to do it is not with talk about relationships of a political nature, which are inevitably dualistic, full of subjects and objects and their relationship to one another; or with programs full of things for other people to do. I think that kind of approach starts it at the end and presumes the end is the beginning. Programs of a political nature are important end products of social quality that can be effective only if the underlying structure of social values is right. The social values are right only if the individual values are right. The place to improve the world is first in one’s own heart and head and hands, and then work outward from there. Other people can talk about how to expand the destiny of mankind. I just want to talk about how to fix a motorcycle. I think that what I have to say has more lasting value.
- When one isn’t dominated by feelings of separateness from what he’s working on, then one can be said to “care” about what he’s doing. That is what caring really is, a feeling of identification with what one’s doing. When one has this feeling then he also sees the inverse side of caring, Quality itself.
- Satchel -> Pg. 49 – What his teammates did not really grasp was that Satchel Paige was an introvert. There are two places to hide if you are shy: off on your own, or at the center of a crowd. Satchel did both. He was a hypnotic storyteller who drew a dugout full of listeners, but most of them he hardly knew. Performing in the middle of a mob masked the fact that intimate relationships were difficult for him. His preferred one-on-ones were taking a teammate fishing for trout or hunting squirrels. Even better: sparring with one of the amateur or professional boxers he befriended, sometimes getting knocked out cold. Fishing, hunting, and boxing had in common a zenlike focus – and no need to talk. They were his way of adjusting to this new life as a public figure. “A man who’s got to stand out in the middle of thousands of people all the time, day after day and year after year, got to get him some alone time now and then,” he explained. That social awkwardness – a bashfulness, almost – was there even in his childhood.