Johnny Bench used to have a show on every Saturday morning. He’d give tips on how to handle a bat better, ways to throw the ball, simple things that when you heard them from a Major Leaguer, you listened. I’d sit with a notepad hoping to glean some thing that could make me into Johnny Bench.
I grew up knowing plenty of professional baseball players. If you came through the Red Sox organization during the 80’s I shook your hand at some point. Some of these guys would have ripped their shirt off to just make a kid smile, others would have ripped your short off because they just weren’t very nice people. The nature of humanity I realize is how you treat anyone, you’re measured by your words as well as your actions.
It taught me something very important, not to hold someone up to the light because most times you are going to see right through them. It’s wonderful to appreciate their talent, to even cheer them on in a pursuit, but when the curtain falls so should the hero worship.
A friend told me they thought I had it pulled together for the most part until they saw that I didn’t. It was easy to be the master of a subject, but when real life entered the room; my false bravado fell far short of their ideas of who I was. Fear had entered my daily life and it made me do some strange things. Act a way I hadn’t, speak a way I shouldn’t. The same holds true for people with some level of fame. They are desperate to hold onto it. Drugs are usually the way they enhance themselves.
I won’t moralize about how steroids hurt sports, they do have a place in helping people get back on the field. But they also can be abused when people might really need to stop playing at being a person they can’t be any longer.
I used to fight with my ex about her mother’s involvement in our daily lives. Sometimes the fights wouldn’t end because I never felt like things were changing. Loud voices became silent screams because she was no longer in the room and talking to myself wasn’t helping anyone. We got so lost in those fights that we stopped being us and became some creature of her mother’s creation. (but that was her plan all along since she had been stupid enough to tell my mother she wouldn’t let up until I was gone!)
The kids next door used to think that big SUVs with the crazy rims and exotic interiors meant they were a success. Then they went to college and found out what it took to get there and became much happier with their simple four door sedans. The value was greater for them because they understood the payoff.
Every person I know has the ability to to great things. They might not be world changing, they could just be simple things that they struggle to achieve. But they got there because they took a chance and were willing to fail.
I tell my nephew all the time that every person has value. Even the kid on his basketball team who always misses the basket, but runs his tail off offers something to his teammates. It’s a lesson so few people remember as adults.
Looking up to someone always means they are going to at some point fail you. We try to create a sense of someone without really knowing that person or what motivates them. For the most part, we’re all scared of something and it makes us do crazy things.
Some of those effects last a minute and others a lifetime. That friend who was surprised by my actions, I can’t look her in the face anymore. My fear of having let her down is a worse than most things I can imagine. (anyone who has read anything about my daughter knows I understand absolute grief!)
But I am trying to do better…