Growing up on a farm in Ohio, two miles from nowhere in a time when TV meant three or sometimes four broadcast channels, depending on the weather, I didn’t know how exceptional my life was. Like other kids I fantasized about growing up and, depending on whim and whatever was current in the news, I wanted to be a police officer, fire fighter, soldier, astronaut, cowboy or superhero. Sometimes, depending on the season, I wanted to be sports star as well.
Now, in Ohio if you loved football and basketball as much as I did as a kid you were probably a Buckeyes fan. Because I was fairly tall for my age, come winter time, I dreamed of being the dominating center of the basketball team. That was after n entire fall of pretending to be the star quarterback. But com springtime it was all about baseball and I was determined to be the ace pitcher for the Cincinnati Reds.
My dad always told me that I could be anything I wanted to be, right?
When I was old enough I played little league baseball, figuring that was the place to start. Trouble was that I was afraid of being bit in the face with the ball. It’s pretty hard catching a ball with eyes close and head turned away.In other words, I wasn’t all that good. I could occasionally hit the ball, though. And so the coach played me from me to time. The trouble with baseball is that besides hitting you have to do something else. Wanting to be a pitcher didn’t quite work out for me because I couldn’t seem to throw straight and even if I got the ball into he general vicinity of home place and the catch could mange to knock it down, when he threw it back to me it was a toss up whether or not I could actually catch it. Anyway, the coach stuck me in right field which is, as every kid knows, where the worst player on the team usually ends up.
I never really gave up on becoming a pitcher though. I kept practicing, throwing a ball at a tree in the yard. I’d say poor tree, except usually I didn’t hit it so the tree and especially its bark were pretty safe. I got in pretty good shape though from chasing after my errant throws.
Around the time I was ten my family moved to a new house on a farm my father had recently purchased. The house set on a hill an so the back all of the basement was almost completely exposed, giving me a huge target at which to throw a rubber baseball. Even I could hit a whole wall, right? Using some chalk I drew a box on the wall to represent the strike zone. I worked on getting my pitches to hit the wall in that square. After a lot of tries, usually I could do it.
After three years of practicing and having my sister, whose bedroom was directly above my target, complaining about waking her up first thing on a lay summer morning, I was good enough to believe I stood a chance at making my high school;’s team. Anyway, I was determined to try out. Pitchers and catchers reported out a couple of weeks earlier than everyone else, though everyone wanting to be on the team was welcome to come to practice to work on physical conditioning. I was actually pretty good – just not good enough to make the team. But that didn’t diminish my love for the sport. However, it did resign me to the reality that I probably wasn’t going to ever make it into the Majors let alone start for the Reds.
Kids dream big because that is what they do best. Everyday is a new adventure in a world of infinite possibilities. Most of us don’t achieve our wildest dreams, though. As we mature we realize we aren’t strong, fast or tall enough to be sports heroes. And so we wind up settling for something more grounded, better suited to our particular sets of limitations. Of course, our shortcomings are rooted in self-imge and what we have allowed other to convince us is our truth. I firmly believe that determination to overcome something trumps anything. There are countless examples of those who beat the odds and accomplish great things despite the barriers other have imposed. A lot of our inabilities come from what and whom we permit to control us. Sometimes its better not to know what’s possible until you’ve already learned how to do the impossible.
You see, the majority is satisfied to commiserate, consoling each other about their failures and how the odds are stacked against everyone. Misery loves needs a lot company and fortunately there are a lot of miserable people out there. Still a few succeed despite all he nay sayer in their lives Some are gifted, perhaps, talented in some way that makes doing this thing or that easier. But for most who succeed the secret stems from their refusal to fail – or deny failure the ability to define the future. They pick themselves up, dust themselves off, learn whatever lesson there is to be learned from their miscues and they move on about becoming successful.
A few of us retain the ability to dream and carry it forward into adult life. Sometimes that creates problems for us, though. You see, dreamers are not highly regarded in places where practicality reigns supreme like the business world. Many of those who never lose the ability to dream become artists, musicians and writers. We live out our fantasies vicariously through the pictures we draw, the figures we sculpt, the lyrics we pen and scores we compose or the characters we create to play out all the “what ifs” left over from our childhoods. We experience the contrived reality of our dreams vicariously through the magic of our creativity.
And so, in my mind it was possible for a couple of eight year olds, a boy and a girl, who are best friends, to become the star pitchers on their little league team while learning about having superhero powers. Throw in a supposed haunted house, a vicious dog, and strange old man and his scary spinster sister who everyone in town thinks is a witch, season it with a lot of riding around on bicycles, playing int he park and exploring wildly vivid imaginations and you have the essence of what Becoming Thuperman, one of my soon to be released books, is all about.
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