I laced up my spikes for another opening day, my 4th as a pro. Over all the years of playing, there have been a number of memorable moments. They can be best described by the feelings that accompanied them. The feeling of over 10000 fans shaking the ground beneath me at an NCAA regional final, the feeling of winning a Big Ten Championship, the feeling of clinching a playoff berth. It's feelings like these that stick in my head, it's these feelings that keep me trucking along.
For so long, I have been on a quest for these feelings-splitting my attention between my quest and the seemingly mundane parts of the game. As professional seasons drag on, people often refer to players "grinding it out." I have bought into this mentality, trying to grind through the tough parts of the season to get to the meaningful moments-the big games, the playoffs, the extra inning finishes. For the past three years, these meaningful moments have been short lived and I have gone home wanting more.
As humans, that's our nature. It's built in for us to be on the lookout for these times, these great feelings. We want a grand memory to hold in our minds. This way we can look back on our lives with joy. But what if we didn't have to look back?
My friend, Charlie, recently sent a message wishing me luck on the season. He is a retired professional pitcher who now works with my dad. The last paragraph of his note caught my attention-
"See it and hit it, guy. Savor the liners and the 3 for 4 days. No matter what, just do your thing. It's all cake."
Lately, I have begun to look for these feelings in everyday life, trying to experience the big moments in the small and mundane times. The feeling of a barreled ball in batting practice becomes different, a range play off of a fungo becomes something more. Truthfully, it's the same feeling I get when I'm on a walk with my wife, in the living room dancing with my niece, or watching football on a Sunday afternoon on my parent's couch. I have been "savoring" these times. Paying closer attention to them-savoring the feelings, savoring the small moments.
Less and less time is spent looking back on old moments or towards new ones when I realize they are always right in front of me. I can experience that joy every day, all the time. I'm not expecting anything big, just looking for life to happen and appreciating it when it does. That is the greatest gift-joy is always attainable, even in the smallest of moments.
So this season, my battle and my grind is to stay focused on the little things. To appreciate the mundane moments I had previously skipped over. To savor each and every one of them, to spend less time searching and more time experiencing. Because at the end of the day, "it's all cake."
Follow me this year on Twitter! @apettersen1