Can a tragedy teach us to swing for the fences? [Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2004, 6:11 pm]
I opened up the newspaper this morning to see a story on the front page about a car crash. A teenage girl had been killed. I scanned through the article to look at the names like I always do, just in case I recognize them. I never have before. But today I did.
She wasn't someone I knew very well. Heck, there are hardly any teenage girls around here that I know very well. But I remembered this girl from Little League softball, from the years when I was 11 and 12. We were on the same team together.
I didn't know any of my teammates all that well either. But hey, when you play on a team with someone for several weeks, two years in a row, and lose championship games with them, well, you remember them.
There's really only one thing that sticks in my mind, concerning this girl. She wasn't one of the best players on the team, but she tried. I remember one time when she was up to bat. She stood there, ready to hit the ball. The first pitch came in - she didn't swing at it, and it was a called strike.
The second pitch came in, and still she didn't swing - another called strike. By this time, we were all shouting, "Come on! Swing the bat!!" Pitch #3, right down the middle - she didn't swing. Called out on strikes. On the way back to the dugout, she was crying.
I don't know why I remember that incident so well. Maybe it was because I didn't understand it. Why didn't she swing? Was she afraid she wouldn't hit it? Did she just not like playing the game? I don't know; I wish I did.
I've only seen her 2 or 3 times since then - I doubt she would have remembered me now. But now she's dead. She was only 17. She was driving a car, going 20 mph over the speed limit, and went off the road. She wasn't wearing a seat belt, and was thrown from the vehicle, and pinned underneath it. Her two friends in the back, who were wearing safety belts, lived. I can't imagine what her parents are going through right now.
Judging from the softball story, I wouldn't have pictured her as a reckless person at all. So why didn't she swing the bat?
This whole story has made me think a little. First off, no longer will I feel embarrassed about not having a driver's license at the age of 18. Experience is priceless, so why not get as much as I can?
Secondly - life is short. I'm sure this is a truth that will only be reinforced to me as I grow older. I keep telling myself to take opportunities as they come, and to stop slacking off. Who knows how much longer I may have to live on this earth?
I need to learn to swing the bat. Even if I don't think I can hit. Even if it might not be a strike. My desire should be to go down swinging rather than to go down without swinging at all. Because I've never been guaranteed the chance to get up a second time.
"Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards."
-Soren Aabye Kierkegaard-
Vitality - Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2009