Baseball is a metaphor for everything
June 4, 2006
A few nights ago I was talking to my two oldest sons about the power of positive thinking and the self fulfilling power of negative thoughts. Of course this was all in relation to baseball, because aside from Legos their thoughts are consumed with little else.
One of them has been having a lot of trouble at bat during games. At the pitching machine… he hits everything beautifully. When the coach is pitching, or during practices, the same.
But put him up at bat during a game and it is like looking at a different kid. There is no explanation for it, other than the negative self speak. The coaches come up to us, privately, and say that he should be the best on the team. That is what all the evidence during practice would suggest. And yet, time after time, in a game situation he fails to come through.
So I began this conversation telling them both that I wanted them to think positive thoughts when they got up to bat. I gave them a little mantra to say when they got up at home plate. “I am a hitter. I can do it. I can hit a homerun. I can do it.” They looked at me like I had lost my mind.
“I’m not saying that,” my ten year old protested.
“You don’t have to go up to there and shout it, though maybe that would scare everyone else away from you. No, you say it in your head.”
From the way they protested you would think I had suggested they go up to bat naked.
A few days ago I got an “opportunity” to get paid for some writing. If we use the word “opportunity” to mean “lay down while we run you over with a steam roller to extract every last ounce of your soul from your body and then pay you a pittance”. I don’t want to get into details because it seems as though they could be a particularly litigious
club group. But suffice it to say that the offer was insulting. And not just insulting to me, because I am sitting on some sort of high horse, just plain old insulting to writers everywhere ( imagine my sweeping arm gesture which encompasses all of you)
As I said to the person offering the job, if I accept this sort of job I am basically saying that what I do has no value. That my writing and the writing of other women and mothers (not to exclude men out there, but this offer was a mom thing) is worth nothing. And I don’t believe that. I can’t believe that.
I told the person offering the job that I hoped no one accepts this job under these terms. But I know someone will. I know someone will believe the lie that we have been collectively fed, that mothering, and the writing about mothering, has no value, that you should be happy for a little pat on your head. Now go sit in the corner, fiddle with your pearls, and look pretty.
Writing about being in the trenches of motherhood is revolutionary. Our mothers didn’t have this outlet. Being able to write honestly about all facets of our lives is freeing. Finding out that other women feel like an outcast from the “perfect mother” club is comforting.
I seethed over it for days, and a wise friend told me I needed to let it go, and I have. Or rather will after I write this. She also asked what I was going to do about it. Do? Isn’t my outrage enough.
And as I began to hem and haw she said, well you have a safety net I have kids to feed, that’s the difference. No, it’s more than a safety net I had said. I couldn’t think of what it really was. Safety net implies that you are doing something, but what will be caught if you fall. No, I have been treating my life as a crutch.
Have I worked on my book at all in the past few months? No.
Why not? Oh the reasons I could give are numerous and varied. With seven kids people don’t expect much of you. If my shoes match and my shirt is buttoned correctly, people are impressed. The world is my enabler. But, if I have time for this I have time to do writing that will pay me.
In the end though it comes down to the negative self talk. My own reluctance to step up to the plate and claim the title of writer, lest some one slap me down. My life long pattern of giving up, so that I don’t have to fail.
‘Tis easier to stand motionless at homeplate, ostensibly waiting for the perfect pitch, blaming the pitcher for lousy throws, blaming the umpire for bad calls, than it is to claim the game as your own, to swing with all you heart, all your strength, and strike out.
Old habits are hard to change, the negative self talk even harder.
So now it is my turn up at the plate. I understand fully the protests of my sons. I feel naked.
“I am a writer. I can do it.”
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