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Pay it Forward

I got a note from a former student today. He was in my Intro to Theatre Class at Furman. He was a Freshman on the baseball team, and been spending the year healing from Tommy John surgery. Being a baseball fanatic myself, we started chatting every morning before class about his injury, his healing, and about the weight of the Cubs historic end of year collapse.

There is no suffering quite like baseball suffering. Simply due to the non-stop nature of the games. They seem just to never end. And momentum can be so hard to get back no matter much you try and will it into being.

But my student was an excellent sport, especially considering he was from Cleveland, which means that even at 18 years he knows something about self inflected athletic team pain. And I thought him allowing a Cubs fan to vent to him, considering we were the last team to inflict such pain upon the Indians, showed a certain strength of character in such a young man. He knew that pain wasn’t personal. That in sports there is always two sides, a victor and a vanquished. He was choosing to be a good sport about it. After years of devastations on my end, I don’t know that I could have don’t it.

He also studies baseball at a very high level, which I think that gives you a certain anesthetic distance from the result. Theatre hurts me less because I study it more. But I have no real since of how hard it is to get out a college age batter. I don’t know the science behind it. He lives it and breathes it too much. for it to become truly personal. He’s got to be able to let to go, unlike me and other rabid fans who can’t handle it when Kris Bryant doesn’t lace every 98 MPH fastball moving up and in on his hands like I think he should.

And then, like everyone else’s life, his fell apart. Due to Covid and the financial impact if had on the school, baseball is one of the programs that Furman cut in 2020. He was, all of a sudden, a man without a team. I was totally bummed for him. I meant to write, I meant to reach out, but just forgot. Life got hard and confusing and painful. Then time, memory’s great eraser, cleared the eliminated Furman baseball from my brain, and I forgot all about it.

Until, yesterday, when he had the decency to drop me a line. He thanked me for being one of his favorite teachers at Furman. For helping him see the world in a slightly different way. He also let me know that he was heading to play baseball down at Jacksonville University. Even further from home.

I wrote him back a long email. I encouraged him for pursuing his dreams. That when it really comes down to, getting to do what you love to do each and every day, that is what it’s really about. It’s kept me going through some pretty hard times, and I wished that for him. I also directed him to the blog, as a way to keep up with how I’m doing. That it’s going to be hard, but what he’s got to be learning is that there is never a good, easy time to do anything. I’m learning that with the cancer, he’s learning that with the baseball. We each just have to wake up and make today the absolute best we can make it, not matter how stacked things seem against us.

Make today better than yesterday. That’s where we are at, Sometime it’s sleeping longer. Sometimes it’s reaching out. Sometimes it’s just not going dark, and making someone else’s day better. That’s what he did for me. So thank’s Spencer, Tomorrow’ s blog is how I attempt to pay it forward!


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