“A truth that’s told with bad intent beats all the lies you can invent.”
Part II. Folks, I may lose some people here. That is okay. I understand. The purpose of all of this ultimately, is to tell the truth. Truth depending on a point of view means different things to different people. I totally get that. If what I am about to say kills the subscriber list and the social media followers, I get it. However, this is what is on my heart and my mind today. I have to tell my truth, be it ever unpopular or not. This is about to nature of the world, as it were, or not. I don’t know. Let’s just get started and see where it leads. Again, if you think I am off the rails on this one, so be it. Return to your regularly scheduled programming.
A few days ago, no more than a couple of weeks ago, something occurred to me. I think personally it classifies as an epiphany. My counselor doesn’t describe it quite in such terms, he calls my phenomena being disconnected. At any rate, I will tell my story and you all can decide amongst yourselves.
The other day I was informed that I was one of if not the only one who was not invited to an agency managerial retirement party. And I mean, probably the only one. I have always thought that I was an up and comer, a good manager, which had a great ability to foster liaison and to build partnerships, that I had a gift of gab, that I was liked within the agency. Apparently, not all or any of that is the case, I am not sure which one. I spent the rest of the day stewing about what I perceived as a professional slight. I was on the verge of letting it ruin my day, as I make an unfortunate habit of with the stressors and depressors.
I just could not shake it on my commute home. How it is just one thing after another. Rejection after rejection. Pretty much from the age of I don’t remember when until present day. It has been a hell of a long time is all I know. I am only where I am currently, because I have never let rejection or my circumstances stop my upward mobility. I just kept on keeping on. But, doesn’t anyone ever get tired of it? Doesn’t anyone ever get tired of the climb, and the fight? Doesn’t anyone ever get tired of feeling like your girlfriend ripped your heart out all over again at 15? Doesn’t anyone ever get tired of being told “no” for absolutely no reason? I know I do. Most days, I feel like I just can’t take one more let down. Frustrated, and gripping the steering wheel harder than I normally do, I asked myself when is the constant battle and the constant fight of life going to let up? When can I just have some peace?
Then came the moment where I may lose some of you. I told myself out loud and out of nowhere, “This isn’t real”.
What do I mean by that? I mean literally, the world often times does not feel real. It feels like a joke, only I am not privy to the punch line. Why else must there be all the strife, and the drama, all the rejection, all of the coldness, all of the bitterness we must swallow, and the slow climb only to be knocked off our ledge over and over to have to start all over again? Why? It doesn’t seem real.
My counselor wanted to know more. Where my feelings stemmed from. What made the think the world could be so fake. My response was as follows.
“You see, just for instance I used to love baseball once upon a time. I was absolutely fanatical about it. I learned how to throw a baseball when I was five and I was completely hooked from then on. I played every single season from T Ball all the way until I was out of school. Whenever baseball season started I played whether by myself doing drills, or friends, or the team, from the minute I got home from school, all the way until sun down. Sometimes I would even keep trying drills in the dark just so that I could keep playing. I was obsessed. Whenever I didn’t make an all-star team (which happened a few times) I was inconsolable. I wept. There was nothing my parents or my friends could say to take away the sting. The sting of knowing you played well, and definitely as well as quite a few other players, but that it still was not enough. I cared that deeply about baseball. And in true fashion, I just kept on keeping on.
Shortly thereafter I became a regular starter, playing multiple positions, and making multiple all-star teams every summer. I suppose you could say there were 3 or 4 of us that were sort of the stars of the team. It felt good to be in good shape as far as my ultimate goal was concerned. My dream was to play college ball and get a degree that would enable a journalism or sports broadcasting career. All of the emphasis was going be on baseball though.
The next year I went and played in a bigger league in a bigger town so that I could maximize my exposure to anyone watching players on behalf of a college baseball program. I was having a great season up to the midway point I had a stellar fielding percentage, a batting average near .400, and had several stolen bases. I had changed positions to 2nd base because I thought it would give me more defensive opportunities which it definitely did. I played my best, and my hardest, and played virtually mistake free baseball. However, I noticed something.
Not a single scout or rep had been seen at our games.
My coach’s son was our catcher. His name was Jake Lindell. He was a great catcher and a hell of a nice kid. One day after practice, I asked him very bluntly if he knew if scouts had been out. I knew he would know by virtue of his dad, and I knew he would tell me the truth. His words absolutely crushed me.
“Rob, don’t get mad, don’t be sad, and don’t get upset. But there are a couple of guys that have been asking my dad about Darren. But, that’s it. They aren’t asking about me either. I know deep down this is my last year of ball. I’m sorry man”.
My dream, came to a crashing halt before it ever began. I never felt so defeated in all of my life.
I came to practice and approached Coach Doug two days later after doing a lot of soul searching. I had my uniform shirt, my pants, and my stirrups. I handed them to Coach and I said, “Coach, I’m done”. He asked what was motivating this decision, that the season wasn’t over yet, that my team could not work without a second baseman. I said, “Coach, I am not going to spend possibly my last summer that I am alive, chasing a dream that will never happen”. He stood stunned for a minute, then extended his hand and said, “We are going to miss you. You’re a hell of a ball player. It has been a privilege”. We shook hands, I got in my car, and I drove away from that quiet Montana mountain ball field forever. Seeing my dreams dashed once again, I wept the whole way home.
I cherished baseball. It was the first love of my life. This was yet another searing rejection. I kept track of baseball still. I kept track of my friends that had gone on to play college ball in Eastern Montana and Minnesota. I still followed my beloved Texas Rangers, for a time. However, I never felt the same way about it again. Where am I going with this?
I still went on with my life, I made my own career, I made my own life, and I ended up a hell of a lot more successful in life than anyone I know who received a scholarship. Anyone I know that got a ride ended up hurt, ended up quitting, or ended up playing four years and still not getting drafted. The chances of making a baseball career were always slim to none. I realized that eventually.
The further along I went in life, the further I grew apart from baseball. There was cheating scandal after cheating scandal. There was doping scandal after doping scandal. There were revelations many years removed that your child hood heroes were not worthy of being called heroes. There was Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Andy Pettite, Roger Clemens, and the list literally goes on with hundreds of names. Then, there was the straw that broke the camel’s back for me. The Houston Astros.
I will not even get into it. If you don’t know, Google it. That was it for me. A sport I always thought was so pure and so uniquely American, a sport so wonderful it was hard to describe, well folks, it isn’t real!
I will never watch another inning of baseball as long as I live. Not MLB, not Legion, not T Ball, not anything. Why? There is nothing to romanticize about baseball or maybe any other sport for that matter. It isn’t real! It’s all fake! Baseball is no different than the WWE! You may as well have Chris Jericho on the mound trying to throw a curve ball!
What is the point of all of this? Well. That is just one small example. Small and innocuous to most people in its general nature, but baseball was the most important thing in my life not so many years ago. It crushed me. Baseball was a concerted pulverizing of my heart and what I had mapped out for my life. Guess what, it was a complete joke the entire time. It never meant a thing.
I would argue folks, it may ALL be a joke. The news is fake, Hollywood is fake, movies are fake, sports are fake, music is fake, religion is fake (not faith, religion, calm down), the food we eat is fake, I am having a hard time coming up with something in this existence that is NOT fake. Why else would life be such a long slog and an empty struggle for the majority of us who are not well connected and have to work hard just to get by? How is that fair or just? One has to hypothesize, that it is because it is all a joke.
Does anyone ever feel like they are in the Matrix? You know, the Keanu Reeves movie where the Earth is nothing but an electronic veneer that is masking the post-apocalyptic that is the true reality? How about The Truman Show? Where a man is actually living unbeknownst as the start of a reality TV show on a set that oddly enough resembles a snow globe? Where nothing about his reality is a true existence in any shape or form? Does anyone else every feel like that? It may just be me, and that is fine. But the majority of the time lately, I gradually feel like nothing on this plane is real at all. Relationships aren’t real, nothing that meets the eye is real, and baseball certainly isn’t real!
I looked up at my counselor and he had a look of deep internalization on his face. He gathered his thoughts for a minute and he said, “How long have you felt disconnected”?
“Is that what I am” I said.
“Well that is the word I would use that best describes it”.
“I don’t know, a couple of weeks I suppose. So, how crazy am I? When are you going to haul me off to the nuthouse”?
“I am not going to at all. I don’t think you have said anything worthy of going to the looney bin at all. Not only that, I don’t think you shutting off is a crazy idea either. I would almost venture to guess that this is nothing more than a natural psychological response to your surroundings. You do not want to be inundated with stressors and anxiety anymore, so cognitively you are finding your best way to make that happen. Not only that, but I don’t think that is even a bad idea. But, I have to ask you, where are you going from here? You just check out forever? Everyone needs something to keep going. What is yours”?
“I am glad you asked! What I think you are referring to is what a lot of us call the end game. Here is what I am going to do. I am going to collect my pension here in a few years. I am going to sell every single article that I don’t absolutely require in life for survival. I am going to drive my pickup to the RV dealership. I am going to buy a brand new $28,000 Puma camper that looks like some rich guy’s living room on the inside. I am going to load it up. I am going to load up my wife. Then, I am going to drive all the way to either coastal Texas or maybe even Gulf Coast Alabama. Then, I am going to park it as close to the beach as I can possibly get. Then, that’s it.
I am going to live out my days sleeping in a camper that looks like Tom Cruises rec room. I am going to unhook my pickup when I want to go somewhere. I am going to stick my toes in the sand and jump in the ocean on a daily basis. I am going to grill burgers, drink beer, go fishing, or do absolutely nothing at all. I am going to live out my days relaxing and enjoying the fruits of my labor. And, I will be left alone, forever”.
“That sounds like a pretty good idea. What about before that? You have to have short term goals right”?
“That sounds like a good plan too”.
You see guys, my point is that though the world may appear phony (and it very well may possibly BE phony) that doesn’t mean everything about it IS phony. There are still things that drive us. There are still relationships that drive us. I will get to spend my end game with my best friend. I was lucky enough to find the one person on this planet that wants to have a beach camper retirement just as much as me. What are the odds of that? There are plenty of things out there that make this life real. Our family makes it real. Our love makes it real. Just, don’t suffer the phony part. Eye on the prize, in the short and long term.
I am beginning to love myself enough to disconnect, to unplug from the Matrix. I would hope one day, maybe many of you can too.