It was my first time on the softball field in over a decade. My teammates were a combination of former athletes continuing to pursue their passion, twenty-somethings looking to meet new friends, and co-workers doing some team building. This was Adult Softball League: Silicon Valley Edition.
San Jose’s summer was about to start and I got tired to being inside for my workouts. At the time, I was doing Soul Cycle once a week and walking around my office park during lunch. So, I joined a softball league to add variety to my life.
Prompt #5: “What is something I wish I knew how to do?”
To answer the question, if I had to pick one thing that I wish I could do, it’s learn new skill or gain knowledge quickly. I suppose, however, the down side of learning something too fast is that you don’t have enough time to reflect on the process of gaining knowledge or perfecting a skill, let alone giving yourself time to enjoy the process.
I’ve been thinking about failure for the better part of two decades. In particular, there was a stretch of a year or two where everything in my life was going according to my plan… almost like clockwork. I don’t recall failing at anything I tried.
That brings me back to the softball field. There were a few key firsts that night — first team sport in over a decade, first game of the season, first base hit, first rush of the night. But because I was never great at softball and had no idea what I was doing, I hadn’t bought cleats yet. You know where this is going. So, as I ran to first base that night, I lost my footing and tripped on a dip in the field that appeared even from home base.
Now, it looked like I tripped over my own foot, but there really was a dip in the ground. I promise. Anyway, I actually rolled and face planted, scratching my hands and knees really good. I was red hot with embarrassment. Out! Failure, disappointment, and physical pain followed after the dust literally settled.
I licked my wounds and kept playing. No one else seemed to think much of the fall, so the embarrassment waned. That season, I saw some pretty great softball, learned a better technique for catching the ball, and had a ton of fun. Eventually, I made it around the field and scored some runs.
Prompt #6: “Who inspires you and why?”
I guess, I’m inspired by the folks that continue to work on their skills, even in small pockets of the world, with no audience or accolades. I have so much respect for the discipline to push forward and improve at whatever it is you’re passionate about.
I played only one season and became not terrible at softball. I had dreams of improving my game and actually being a good player, but ultimately I decided that a stationary bike is best for someone with my hand-eye coordination. Plus, I’m severely allergic to pollen, so outdoor sports are miserable for me.
In a weird way, it felt good to fail. It reminded me that I hadn’t failed at anything in so long because I hadn’t tried anything new and I was probably overly confident in my abilities as a human.
So, here’s to all the people who fail until they don’t.