The Box

Photo Credit: Dreamstime

Third game of the young baseball season. Double, standing at second in the bottom of the third inning.

The adrenaline of the young season already pulsing through his veins. He had scholarship offers from three D-1 schools, but this season was going to put him in the elites. The team was eliminated in Semi- State last year, but the championship would be theirs this year.

Single. He comes around easily to score. This was going to be his year.

Bottom of the ninth. He walks. He’s already scored three times, but their bullpen had issues and gave up a two run homer. Game was tied. He’s 264 feet from the sweep.

Bunt drops. He dives for second. Safe. One step closer.

He’s been giving it his all, not just for the offers, but because, he believed, he was the best on this team. And of course he was. Led in most catagiries, defensively good in the outfield, and brought it every game. Great teammate, and this was going to be his year.

Next batter. Shallow single, but not shallow enough. Give him the sign as he rounded third to hold. Fuck that. He picks up steam. He slides focusing on the plate, and the catcher has the ball. Time to collide.

He hits the catcher full speed, ball drops out. Game won. But in the commotion, in the heroic act to win the game, he comes up wincing.

“Probably just a sprain…”, he thinks. Then he feels the sharp pain in his knee. He drops. The team, in their celebration around him clears for the trainer and coaches.

He’s sure it’s not serious. But damn it hurts. He goes for X-rays. Torn ACL, sprained MCL, the blood drains from his face. There it goes, the offers, the state championship, all of it.

This was supposed to be his year.

Sometimes, we’re so focused on checking the box, pushing so hard to get it done, that we destroy everything else around us in this singular focus.

The idea of hitting a goal, at whatever cost necessary, sets us back further on other, more important things.

Instead of losing one thing, we lose everything. In the example above, the best player that the team needed, pushed when he didn’t necessarily have to. And in his push, it cost him and his team the championship. It cost him offers. But most of all, it cost him himself.

Sometimes, playing smart means taking the short term L for the long term W.

Blazes of glory don’t do you any good when you’re dead.

Injuries don’t help you because you can’t play.

We give people shit sometimes for not going 120% all the time, because we think they aren’t trying hard. Whereas, many of them are playing the long game, understanding that it’s difficult to go undefeated if you don’t have your best on the field.

The goal of fixing the light socket doesn’t really matter if the house is burning down around you.

For a long time, at my job, I have two chess pieces in my office. A king and a queen. I knew I had to be a king to get the queen. But for years, and even recently, I’ve been caught up in checking that damn box and getting a woman that I could call mine.

I’ve written so much, so many times about how a woman shouldn’t be your focus, and here I was, making it that, trying to check that damn box, because I thought, after years of frustration, I had finally gotten to the relationship I wanted.

Nothing else mattered, no how she felt, not the timing, not the whole situation. Taking my time wasn’t in the cards, because I had to check that box.

So here I am again. I won a battle, but lost the war. I focused on home plate, but wasn’t concerned with this woman’s reaction to all of it. It wasn’t fair to her. She didn’t get a say. And that wasn’t right.

We, as men, are taught to lead, and they will follow. But we also can’t go off half cocked, shooting from the hip, especially when there are other people involved. It does zero good to build a life with someone by smothering them in your plans, aspirations, and goals without talking to them.

Assumptions are the mother of all fuckups.

If you want a “Ride or Die”, she has to be holding onto you right on the bike, not being dragged behind by a chain.

All because I wanted to check that box.

All because the idea of a significant other overrode all other scenarios. I didn’t make her a teammate, she was a subject, an object that I gave no mind to, all for trying to check that box.

It hurts because it was an unforced error.

It hurts because it could have been prevented.

I was too selfish to see that the plate was blocked, and I was going to get hurt sliding in.

Many of the lessons I’ve talked about in my past posts on this blog have only been given lip service to me and I haven’t truly lived some of them, especially in relationships.

It’s very humbling to have your words used back at you to tell you you haven’t been true to who you say you are. It’s mirror work that needs to happen, and as strong as I am in many aspects of my life, my relationships with women still need a ton of work.

And that starts with me. It starts with applying the lessons I’ve talked about, but apparently haven’t fully grasped.

It’s leading, not dictating. It’s strength, not dominance. It’s empathy, not stubbornness.

It’s confidence, not desperation. It’s abundance, not scarcity. It’s outcome independence, not hanging my hat on a star.

It’s patience, not pushing. It’s understanding, compassion, and humility.

A man who is measured, strong, and content in his life won’t be eager to check a box. He sees home plate and a shallow single, but also sees the hold sign at third. He knows that he’ll still be playing in the next series, win or lose, because he listened instead of busting ahead haphazardly.

I wasn’t ready. I was only ready to check the box. And checking the box doesn’t mean shit if the whole world is burning around it.

It does you no good to be sitting out injured while your team goes on without you when they didn’t have that choice. You made that choice when you rounded third, and you hurt those who depended on you, who loved you, and who believed in you.

But most of all, you hurt yourself. You made choices that you know weren’t right in order to justify checking that fucking box.

This blog has always been a journal for me, taking the lessons in life, the experiences that have shaped me, and applying them and learning from them. But there are still lessons I haven’t learned. Still things I have to apply. Still places where I’ve fallen short, merely pretending to learn while not truly grasping these situations.

This isn’t a simulation. This isn’t a sheet of paper with boxes to check off. This is real life, love, and other people with feelings, goals, desires and aspirations. They matter too, and in the quest to find a quality LTR, they have a say. They’re your teammate. They’re your lover, they’re your friend. They aren’t a mark on a paper, a post on social media, a trophy that you can add to your mantle.

I have work to do. I’m still trying to be the best man I can be, I’m working everyday to put what I preach into practice. But there are still blind spots that I need to address, especially when it comes to relationships.

But as I’ve always said, and recently forgotten: “You can’t have a quality relationship until you love yourself.”

Everything about you has to be sincere, honest, and representative of who you are striving to be.

I’ve forgotten some of that, and those closest to me have made it very clear that this is a pattern I need to correct. And I intend to.

Time will tell.

One thought on “The Box

  1. You’re a good writer Tim.

    I did it to myself in the gym a few months ago. Got sharp pain in my left shoulder from pushing it too hard. An angry nerve.

    Then to top it off, injured my calf so I couldn’t walk for 2 days. Acupuncture thankfully fixed it so I can walk again.

    But failed to play the long game and lost a month of training for the short game.

    I am blessed though. Already have that ride or die girl. Been with her for almost 30 years now.

    Note – this isn’t a competition. We are all at different stages mentally, physically, spiritually, monetarily, relationship wise. And of course with friends. And family. And life goals.

    Like you and I have both said many times – we compete with our former selves.

    Cheers.

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