Swing Batter Batter Batter Swing

I am heading to South Carolina in a couple of days, and in honor of my little vacay I would like to share a story. It’s a good one.

It was last spring and I was in Greenville for the Nationwide Golf Tournament. I had never been to Greenville before, and I was really excited since it was where my mother and father had met while attending the same college. My parents went to Furman and my Dad was there on a full scholarship for football. He LOVED his life in Greenville. This trip came  only a couple months after my Dad had passed a way, so a visit to the football field was a must. I am being modest when I say my father was a bad ass. He was a total superhero in my life for many, many years, so I was thrilled at the opportunity to go check out his old stomping grounds.

I was traveling with my boyfriend and most of our time was filled with golf tournament activities. I was persistent, however, and we found some time to visit the stadium at the end of the trip.  We were told the location was close to where we were staying, so we asked the hotel to point us in the right direction. “Out the front door and take a right”, they said. “It’s a couple miles down the road, you cant miss it.”

Side note: Back in the 60‘s Furman didn’t have their own football field. The team used a city field for all the practices and games. Furman has since built their own field on campus, but I had no interest in seeing that one. I wanted to see where my dad played his games. The locals told me that the city field had recently been renovated and it had changed quite a bit, but I didn’t mind. At least it was still there.

So we set out on foot and headed down the road. After about a 20 minute walk, we saw the lights above the trees and there it was. Yay! The exterior building appeared to be brand new which was clearly what they meant when they said it was freshly renovated. To my dismay, the entrance was all locked up and it was completely closed. We peered through the gate to look for signs of life, but there was nothing. What we did see, however, was how renovated it actually was….it was so renovated that it was now a baseball field. I was super bummed that it had changed so much, but it still felt great to be in the same spot that my Dad had been when he was on top of the world. I didn’t care.

We walked the perimeter to get a feel for the space and to see if perhaps we could find another way in. I tend to be a rule follower, so I was ok with seeing it with from the outside, although my wonderful boyfriend was not having it. He was going to get me on that field. He continued to follow the fencing and spotted a guy on a lawnmower tractor that had just entered through a big, electric gate. The gate was quickly closing behind the machine, and in a spontaneous mad dash, my boyfriend ran for the opening. He made it through the doors, barely clearing his body before the heavy metal gate slammed shut. It was a full-on Jason Bourne moment. I am a chicken, however, and I was stuck on the outside.

My boyfriend ran over to the man on the machine and waved him down. At first the guy looked a bit concerned and wasn’t sure if he should notify security, but after a bit of persuasion he decided to let us in. He kindly opened the gate and gave us some alone time out on the field.

We walked out on to the grass and it felt incredible. I got chills, he got chills. We stood there for a moment in silence and just took it all in. Tears started to stream down my face and it was a truly powerful moment. There are hardly words. After some encouragement from my boyfriend, I started running across the field. He wasn’t going to let me miss out on the moment. After all, the fence nearly took off his arm so I had better make the experience worth his while. (In hindsight the running might have been a bit dramatic, but at the time it felt amazing.) After a lap or two, I flopped down onto the grass in the middle of the field. I laid there with the world spinning and I felt my father’s presence everywhere. The experience consumed me and I didn’t want it to end. It was perfection.

I stayed there for as long as I could until reality finally crept its way back in. I made my way to my feet and it was time to go. We thanked the lawnmower guy for letting us in and we headed toward the exit. I stopped for a second and ran back to grab a handful of grass. I put it in my pocket and was stoked I had a keepsake to remember this wonderful, poignant adventure.

The next morning we gathered in the lobby with some friends from the tournament. Some of the guys were local, some were visiting and we are all saying our farewells before we hit the road. We began to tell the story of the prior day’s events when one of the local guys stopped me and said, “which field did you go to?” And I explained that went to the one down the road…the renovated stadium on the left. And he started laughing and laughing. He said, “You weren’t at the right stadium, sweetheart. The football field was a minute or two further down the road on the right”.

Um…..yeah. We went to the wrong stadium. Seriously? Seriously. Another reminder that a sense of humor is imperative in life, especially when I am in the drivers seat. If we had walked for another minute or two we would have seen the football stadium on the other side of the road.

So, let’s completely bypass the fact that I actually allowed myself to believe a football field could be renovated into a baseball field. Wow.

What I love about this story is that knowledge of my mistake didn’t have to weaken or cheapen what I had felt, and it didn’t make my experience out on that field any less real. It was COMPLETELY real. The fascinating truth underlying my blunder is that the physical reality we see and experience is just a projection of what is inside our minds. Yeah, yeah, yeah, we have heard this before….but let me say that again, the physical reality we see and experience is just a projection of what is inside our minds. Hmmm. Profound, I think. There are a number of different angles one could take with this concept, and I will leave that up to you.

 

Happy Pondering.

 

 

 

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