Once again, I have signed up for the Corporate Challenge and put my name on the list for the softball team thinking that I really wouldn't be needed on the softball team. There were so many people that signed up this year that they had to have try-outs. I was dead the day of the try-outs, at least this was my excuse, but somehow I managed to still make the team. I asked one of the guys who did make the team how it was possible that I made the team and he said "you can catch." with a shrug. I thought to myself "I can?" I haven't thrown or caught a ball since the softball game last year. Apparently I did OK as a catcher because that's where they're putting me again this year.
The guys in my office talk about baseball all the time. Jeff, who is from St. Louis, is a Cardinals fan and everyone else is all "GO Royals! Go Blue!" So there's a lot of trash talking back and forth and statistics and lots of things that make my eyes glaze over. I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that we should all go play catch. We have this large grassy area next to our building. Sometimes they set up a volley ball net out there. Jeff said that he and Jay had been talking about doing that for a while. The next day we all brought in our baseball mitts and Jeff brought a softball and during lunch we all went out to play catch. Jeff threw the first ball which promptly hit me right in the face. Tears involuntarily leaked out the sides of my eyes because the ball hit part of my nose as well as my lip. I wiped the tears and blood away, got up and said "Let's keep going." After that, Jeff refused to throw the ball to me. I end up throwing to him now, but I've not let a ball hit me since.
We go out pretty regularly around lunch time and toss the ball around. I've started catching more than I miss. I still marvel at the guys as they throw and catch the ball because they make it look so easy. There's a fluidity to the way they just seem to naturally catch the ball. I stop breathing every time the ball comes in my direction and I feel my gloved hand awkwardly move into a position that will hopefully catch the ball. I am slightly surprised every time the ball ends up trapped in my glove. I feel so self conscious when we're out there, like I'm wrapped in a neon sign that says "no athletic ability". As I watch the ball go around the circle, I wonder what happened to my gracefulness. I have some grace or at least I feel like I have grace when I'm in the middle of my yoga practice. Where is any of that when I'm holding the mitt up for a ball or chasing after one I've missed to catch? Do I look awkward and ungraceful to the guys? Are they seeing me the way I'm seeing me?
Then there are moments, though rare, when I fall into sort of a meditative state. The one rule every one tells me about softball is to keep my eyes on the ball. I watch our neon yellow softball move from person to person and things begin to slow down. Everyone stops talking and all you hear is the thwak sound of the ball hitting a glove. In these moments, my movements are more relaxed. It all starts to have it's own rhythm and sway. I don't stress about catching the ball, I just catch the ball.
I even remember to breath.