Dum Spiro Spero. While I breathe I hope. This is what is on the Great Seal of the State of South Carolina. I remember learning that in Challenge class when I was in elementary school. I thought it was the coolest saying in the world. Dum Spiro Spero. While I breathe I hope.
Of course it’s easy to be that optimistic when you're 9 years old and everything is taken care of for you. It becomes harder when you get out into the world and start working and realize that no one really cares about your breathing and hoping. They just want to know how good you are and what you can bring to the table. Dum Spiro Spero had to become more of an internal thought. A little ray of hope tucked away for when things got bad.
For years the only reason that saying would pop into my head was when I was watching a Cubs game. As long as a team has outs left, anything can happen. Every pitch is so fraught with danger. Or opportunity depending on which side you’re on. Because that ball could go any where, it could bounce any where. And you can’t just run out the clock either. The hitter gets his all his pitches. The team gets all their outs. And it’s not always the best play that makes the biggest difference. A line drive smash right at the third basemen can be an out while a squib off the end of the bat can get you to first base. A 400 foot fly ball can be caught against the wall for an out while a broken bat blooper can clear the bases.
Also it’s a game of failure. I find that inspiring. If you are a .300 hitter, you have a good chance of going to the hall of fame. It also means that you made an out 7 out of 10 times.
That means 7 out of 10 times- you failed. Sounds like the life of a writer.
And the pitchers… the pitchers have to get back on the mound. Whether a guy hits a ball 500 feet or drops a little looper into right field or if a guy makes an error behind him… no matter what happens he’s got to go up there and throw another pitch. Can’t call time out, can’t change the play. Because that is the only play: Throw a pitch to that guy with all the endless possibilities of things that may or may not happen. You've got to grab the ball and throw it home. And the hitter has got to grab his bat and swing. And there’s always the chance that anything can happen.
Last night I woke up in the middle of the night, concerned about the future. I was worried about how I was going to be able to afford to retire. That might be a little presumptuous considering I’m still dealing with stage four cancer, but as my outlook begins to improve, these are the things that pop into my head. I’ve basically spent a year on the side line. A year not able to work full time. I’ve gotten into a bit of a hole and now that things are looking better health wise, I’ve got to come up with a way out.
That is one of the side effects of getting better- picking up the pieces. Because getting sick and getting cancer hasn’t just done things to my body, it’s done things to my bank account, my relationships, my confidence. It shook me. To the core. And now it’s getting time to get back out there. To pick up the ball and face the next batter, after the one before took me deep.
I don’t know if there is something I’m supposed to learn from this experience. Some nugget of wisdom that I’m supposed to go out and share with the world. Maybe it will come to me one day. Maybe it won’t.
Or maybe the lesson is what I learned in my fourth grade challenge class, right there on the Great Seal of the State of South Carolina. Dum Spiro Spero.While I’m breathing, I’m hoping, and with hope anything can happen. Be it a baseball game, a cancer diagnosis. or this bank account I’m about ready to turn back around.