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  • So, the other day I wrote a tongue-in-cheek story about "balance" (Basebalance), that more honestly, the topic should have been "passion". While it is true that I do seek balance in my life (I really do), I don't seek it at the expense of embracing what I am passionate about. I've been there, and that's no fun. I believe there is room for both in life, and that's the sweet spot I swing for.

    Growing up, I fell in love with baseball when my brother Chris took me to my first major league game at age 7 at old Forbes Field. It had everything. It was magical ,and it transported me to a world with many dimensions, each of which I loved. There was history, tradition, numbers and statistics, larger than life players on the field, engaged in an epic 9-inning struggle to "get home".

    Then and there, I decided that's what I wanted to do when I grew up. For the first time, I felt like my life had a purpose. Only one problem with that dream - I was not very athletic. I wasn't even close. I was so bad, I couldn't even make the Little League team. I got cut! (Back then you had to try out, it wasn't an automatic thing - parents were nowhere to be found - it was all the kids, and 1 or 2 coaches). All I had going for me was desire. Getting cut fueled that desire - drove me to try to become a player, to transform what I saw in my mind to what I could actually do, physically. This was very difficult, but I was driven.

    I kept working at it - I suffered all forms of abuse from the jock crowd that I chose to hang around with to learn what they knew, when it came to playing the game - I didn't much care for many of their ways, otherwise, and was immediately and always their "scapegoat", but I didn't care. In a way, I was using them while they were abusing me. I was bound and determined to turn myself into an athlete, and eventually, I actually developed some hard-won game... About the same time that I grew weary of the abuse, and discovered the wonders of getting high, and the "cool" party people. Both worlds coexisted for me for a very brief time, but addiction eventually won out, as it does if you are an addict. Baseball and sports took a back seat to that passion for awhile.

    When I first got clean and sober, I played some ball, and rediscovered my passion for playing, but recovery became my priority. Then, I got married and that relationship became my overriding priority, as it should, and still is - but we eventually learned the importance of giving each other the space to embrace what we loved. Then we had a son, and raising him, and being there for him became priority.

    All this time, what I would have loved to be doing most was playing ball and going to games, but I took care of my priorities. I had it right. Life was good. I trusted that someday, I could return to my passion of playing and going to ballgames.

    I decided that when I turned 50, it would be time to get back into my passion for baseball and softball. That year (2005) a major league baseball team came to town (the Washington Nationals, formerly Montreal Expos) and a church team asked me to play left field for their softball team, and then to manage the team. The universe cooperated in every way with my desire, and I went with it.

    In my 3rd or 4th year of playing ball again, it occurred to me - my childhood dream had come true! I had grown up to be a ballplayer. It was now a part of who I am. So, I was a late bloomer. That dream had, indeed, come true. All those years that I had pined for my love of playing, but took care of my life responsibilities, yielded to a time when I could, once again, feed my passion. That's when I realized how lucky I truly was. When I made the final catch to seal the winning of my first ever championship at anything, for a team I had assembled and managed to that pinnacle - that moment was more meaningful to me than speaking at an official White House Event the previous year, on the same dais as several U.S. Senators and Congressmen and Cabinet Secretaries - or any other career achievement I'd earned, for that matter. That catch, that fulfillment of a childhood dream, was a moment like none other. But, it wasn't the end of that dream - only the beginning. I plan to keep playing until I'm 80 - at least. Seriously. My passion will also fuel my plan for longevity - it keeps me fit.

    My other burning passion is writing. Last year, I discovered the wonders of Cowbird. Another example of passion trumping balance. I have also learned the value of seeking balance with this. I try to keep it to posting a story a day, sometimes two. I set aside about an hour and a half, sometimes two, to reading other stories and crafting my own. In terms of balance, I'm a lot better with it now than I was when I first discovered Cowbird, nearly a year ago. Balance then? Fuhgettaboutit! I posted 56 stories in my first 9 days, 150 in the first 40 days. As a writer, it was like a starving man dragging himself across a barren desert, suddenly falling into a lush oasis. I couldn't get enough of it. So, I have achieved a little more balance with this passion, now.

    Balance is kind of a relative term. A balanced life without passion holds no interest for me. I've been there. It had its time in my life. Today, I seek both - balanced passion, or maybe passionate balance. I still lean more towards the passion, and you know what? I can live with that! It suits me just fine.
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