In the beginning
The night is darkest just before the dawn. Yesterday was the darkest day of the year here in the northern hemisphere, the winter solstice, and the light of my dream is the dimmest it’s ever been. I haven’t pitched a baseball in in almost 9 months and I still don’t know how my elbow will hold up when I do. Despite the realities of the present moment, I know deep in my heart that, like a phoenix, a brilliant resurgence is right on the horizon.
So how did I get to this point? Why is this my darkest hour?
Since October, I haven’t even thrown a baseball at all. I’m resting up to maximize the probability that my arm will become fully healed. These past few weeks have been rough with my job that eats up over 10 hours a day combined with trying to stay on the complete pitcher exercise regimen. The job drains me and I have to dig deep to reclaim the energy I do have when I’m off to get the most out of my exercise time. Often the day has taken a large share of my mental reserves, from which I feel my self-discipline muscle deflate inside of me. I get home and it seems so easy to hop on the internet and shave a couple minutes off my yoga session, instead of getting all I can out of it.
*An aside: I just typed dicipline up there. I didn’t even know how to spell it. Shows what I know.
I think of myself as a disciplined, dedicated, and determined person. It’s frustrating that my job takes so much out of me. But that just sounds like an excuse… anyway, I did have the fabulous opportunity to throw from August up until the end of October. It was three months of bliss. One of the places I would throw was this park by a lake and chuck into a backstop. Summer was fading into fall, but my arm was tingling with excitement. The memory of that first day back at throwing remains seared to my mind. The sma zweena, emerald fields, and azure glass of the water created a utopic scene. I fell in love again.
Another incredible moment was at my school’s baseball alumni weekend in September. The alumni turnout was massive so there were tons of people back that I hadn’t seen since they had graduated. I got to throw with two legends Chaka Kahn and Nick Meerkat. Three lefties with elbow issues, but tossing together to remember the good ol’ days. Just three months had passed since I’d last stepped on that field, but from where I was now standing on the side of the alumni, it gave me an alien feeling. Like a home itself saying I don’t belong anymore.
August 1st was my first time throwing a baseball since April 1st. On April 1st I sprained my UCL in the 4th inning of a close game against rivals from down the road. They were ranked in the nation’s top 10 and I had held them hitless over the first three frames. I was cruising. Then I give up a leadoff double off a grooved fastball in a 1-1 count. I had just missed with a change and wasn’t confident enough to go back to it…that’s an area for improvement (belief in my pitches). Then the next batter rips the first pitch he see for a single. Then a full count base hit off my slider. I was incredulous. I go to a full count on the next guy, but on the payoff pitch, another slider, twinge! I feel my elbow get plucked with a stab of pain. Could it be? I don’t know what’s going on. This couldn’t be happening. Not here. Not now. Not ever. I’m supposed to battle out of this jam. Next batter. Strike 1. Fastball. The elbow doesn’t feel good. I’m taking my time. Thoughts churning like rapids in my head, but also feeling distant like none of them mattered. Get set again, catcher puts down a 3, whip a slider, strike 2. Oh that’s it, that felt much worse, I’m done. This is bad. Hitless to UCLless in the flick of a wrist.
When I saw the video, granted it wasn’t a great angle or of great quality, I didn’t appear too fazed other than maybe taking a bit more time than usual. Inside it was a nightmare. There I was, getting taken out of the game while grabbing my arm. I remembered to flip the ball back to the ump as I was about to cross the 3rd base line. Symbolic of how I can’t hold on to it once I leave it. But I haven’t left it. I’m still with it and I’m coming back. I haven’t thrown my last pitch. There is gas left in the tank and thousands of miles left in my ride. I can do it. I will do it. I am doing it.
A dream is like an internal flame that you must nourish with the current step you’re taking as you march towards realizing it. Sometimes that flame looks like it’s almost out. Like the faintest breeze could extinguish it. “There was once a dream that was Rome. You could only whisper it. Anything more than a whisper and it would vanish…”, and so could mine.
I understand how carefully I must focus on strengthening my dream now. I’m almost down, I’m almost out, but I keep going. You may think it’s crazy and I know, I definitely have a vast distance to travel. However, the work I put in as I strive towards my dream every single day provides the energy and strength required to realize it. Every day it gets stronger, just like the sun climbing higher and higher, ready to shine one day like Rome, an ornament of the world.