You Can't Control the Pitch

Honestly I don’t like baseball.  If I’m flipping through the channels and hit a station airing a baseball game I just keep right on flipping.  I’ve been to a few games and I did enjoy myself but I think a large part of that enjoyment was all the beer I drank which distracted me from the fact that I was actually watching a baseball game.

But I do respect the skill involved in swinging a bat at a fast moving ball and making a solid connection.  The batter never knows what pitch is going to be thrown and in a split second has to decide whether it’s worth swinging at and then swing perfectly in order to hit the ball.  How they react in a split second to each pitch determines whether they get a hit or not.

Recently life threw me a curveball and I not only reacted to it in my typical knee-jerk way but I also had a hard time adjusting to it.  It’s funny and almost pathetic how when life throws us a curveball we almost instantly want to close our eyes, imagine the worst case scenario and swing at it wildly hoping to at least hit something besides air.

The Pitch!

Here is a brief synopsis of the scenario.  Ever since my last stay in Indonesia I’ve suffered from gastrointestinal problems.  At one point I had been diagnosed with a parasite and endured countless regiments of antibiotics.  I’ve taken herbs, probiotics, aloe-vera liquid, fiber supplements, and specialized vitamins; pretty much anything that promised a cure, yet nothing has brought total relief.

Sometimes I feel great and at other times my symptoms cause me problems.  Doctors seem clueless as to what it might be and instead of delving deeper into the mystery diagnose me with IBS.  So I decided that before I head back to Indonesia I’d go see one last gastroenterologist and see if they had any ideas.  They advised that I undergo some invasive and expensive procedures to rule some things out.  I agreed as I don’t think it’s wise to gamble with one’s health.

If you are American then you are familiar with the mess that is healthcare.  Americans have excellent healthcare as far as standards and quality are concerned but how we pay for it is a different beast.  Healthcare benefits are tied to your employer.  Many employers pay part of the premium and pass off the rest of the cost to the employee.  In my case my employer pays for all of it but that comes at a cost. Most diagnostic testing is not covered until my $500 deductible is met and then they pay 80% of the rest.

So I’m on the hook for an “estimated” $1100 for this procedure.  I say estimated because the great thing about American healthcare is nobody can give you a straight answer on what procedures cost because it depends on who you are and what insurance you have and what codes are used when billing the insurance company. It’s a bit like driving a new car off the lot without knowing how much you are paying for it.

The Swing!

Now, $1100 is a lot of money when you are budgeting for a 1 year sabbatical.  It isn’t chump change.  It has put a bit of a dent into our sabbatical fund. Naturally my knee-jerk response was to announce to my wife that our sabbatical was off.  “We’ll never come up with $1100 so let’s just cancel this thing and try again another time.”  My mind was flooded with all the what-if’s.  What if they find something serious?  What if they find nothing and the mystery continues?  What if I need expensive treatment?  Where am I going to get $1100?  It’s so easy to view the worst case scenario.

I made myself suffer for several days obsessing over the unknowns and uncertainty of the situation.  I could cancel the procedure and just live with my condition.  I could postpone the sabbatical departure.  I could have the procedure and still take the sabbatical and worry about where the money would come from later.  I played around with different scenarios in my mind twisting them around, moving different pieces here and there always searching for an answer that seemed just out of my grasp.

Then I read a post by Caleb Wojcik of Pocket Changed who had just announced that he quit his job to pursue his own goals.  In his post was this quote:

“Time is a zero-sum game, a limited resource. Life is too short to do only what we have to do; it is barely long enough to do what we want to do.” ~ Tal Ben-Shahar

Caleb also said “If you’re not at least a little scared about the future, you are not pushing yourself hard enough.”  I realized that there are always going to be curveballs in life; lots of curveballs.  How we react and adjust to those curveballs determines whether we strikeout or whether we knock it out of the park.  It determines whether we do the things we really want to do or whether we relegate ourselves to a mediocre life.

The Hit!

I don’t want to be the batter who never swings.  I also don’t want to be the batter that reacts to the pitch by swinging blindly at the ball.  I want to be the batter that is confident in his batting ability; the batter that is able to read the pitch, concentrate on the ball, analyze the speed and angle of the pitch and adjust his swing to knock it out of the park.

I’ll admit it.  I’m scared.  I’m really scared.  But as Caleb points out, that means I must be pushing myself hard and in the right direction.  I don’t know what the results of these tests will be.  Frankly I’m beginning to not care because I realize now that I can’t control the pitch.  It’s out of my control and I can’t worry or care about the things I can’t control.  What I can care about and what I must care about is how I react to the pitch and to the things that are outside of my control.

So we will continue to play the game.  We may swing and miss a few balls but we’ll keep swinging.  We have some major announcements coming up soon here at 1 Year Sabbatical and I can’t wait to finally share them with you.

Until then think about the game you are playing.  Have you stopped swinging at curveballs in your life because you’re scared of striking out?  Maybe you’re swinging wildly at any pitch that comes your way.  Stop and realize that you can’t control the pitch.  It’s OK to be fearful of the pitch but be confident in your ability to react in ways that knock it out of the park.

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