Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Living the Real Life

The first thing, boys and girls, is that I’m leaving tomorrow for a business meeting through the weekend. I may surprise you and check in while I’m away, so behave.

I was thinking today about my ideal life. If I could do anything--live anywhere, have any job--what would I do?

Here’s my answer: I’d move into a small place in my hometown, and then I’d make a living writing fiction while coaching my high school’s JV baseball team and freshman basketball team on the side.

I have always wanted to write. And I have always had it in my head that I would. Reading a novel or well-written nonfiction is a sacred act. I want to do what others have done for me.

Coaching is teaching, especially when it involves younger players. It is also a way of building something. In this case, coaching the first- and second-year kids is about building an individual team, but also a program. I want to be a part of that, to carry on the tradition, the respect for doing things the right way, for playing the game the right way, that our freshman basketball coach passed on to us.

When Mrs. Lefty and I take walks, we sometimes pass by a field where older kids are playing baseball. The other day, I was staring out across the grass, watching them field grounders and work on their bunting, and my wife said to me, “You miss it, don’t you?”

She’s right. Whenever we walk by, my feet get all jittery and I just want to hop the fence and race out to chase down fly balls, and whack an outside pitch the other way, and smell that wonderful combination of dirt and leather and grass.

I want to be out there talking to some kid about moving his feet to get in front of a ball, or reminding a catcher he’s got to anticipate that curve ball will be in the dirt. I want to throw soft toss to that one guy who always stays after practice for extra work, just feeding him ball after ball until his arms fall off.

So why isn’t that what I’m doing now?

Good question. An important part of the answer has to do with stability. I have a good job with excellent benefits. My kids are practically all teenagers. Mrs. Lefty would go crazy if she had to live that close to her in-laws.

One reason I do what I do now instead of that dream is that I have made other choices. Once you’ve got kids, you can’t just run off and do something else for a while, especially if it may not pay the bills. Once you’re married, you’ve got someone else’s needs to worry about.

And my job includes a lot of those elements I want in my life. I do a lot of writing--some is fairly creative, and some is more technical. I am required to do some teaching. I am particularly effective in that role, and it is one element of my job I enjoy. I have an important part in building this company.

So even if I am not living in that little house in my hometown and coaching and writing for a living, I’m doing all right. I’m a happy man. I’m doing things I believe are important.

Except this meeting I’m going to the rest of this week. That just plain sucks. And it isn’t held in some cushy resort town, but in a place that will be hot and miserable.

Drink a few extra beers for me, okay?

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Anonymous xboxgirl said...

Ok, I'll drink a few beers, but only because you asked.

And I'm pretty sure I might behave while you are away.

6:35 PM  
Blogger SWF41 said...

So why aren't you coaching a local little league rec league? They always need qualified coaches.

6:17 AM  
Blogger Sizzle said...

can't you volunteer to help out coaching on the side somehow? i hate to see you not find a way to incorporate your dream in your reality. it's a nice dream!

i've got those extra beers covered.

3:23 PM  
Blogger Love Monkey said...

Don't sacrifice everything - you'll only be resentful later. I will however honor you with the drinking of booze.

It's the least I can do

3:51 PM  
Blogger Jennifer McK said...

You're so right! Once marriage, kids and family take over, you can't just do whatever you want. I am writing, but it's a dream that I know will take a long time to come to fruition. I do what I can, but my family has to come first.
At least you can find some satisfaction in your work. I hope you can find a way to relieve that baseball itch.

11:14 AM  
Blogger little miss mel said...

Hope your trip was manageable.

Is there a way you can coach some team after work?

I was an assistant coach to a varsity girl's soccer team for a season. While living in SF, I went to practice hearing waves in the background and played games on the Polo Field at Golden Gate park.

It isn't easy rounding up a pack of teenage girls. How in the hell did I ever make it out of high school?

Hope you can figure something out. If not, you seem good to go for now.

9:35 PM  
Blogger Bre said...

The thing about baseball is that it makes all of us remember our childhood dreams. Something about the white of the bases against the green of the field, I'm sure.

8:06 AM  
Blogger Tink said...

Hoop played baseball all through his kid/teenage years. He misses it too. It's awful that we get robbed off all those pleasantries as adults. It makes you wonder... What exactly are they gearing us up for?

Have a safe trip!

2:34 PM  

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