The old saying “time flies when you’re having fun” is making more and more sense to me with each passing year. At the time of writing this, we’ve already played 11 baseball games this season, having won eight of those. When I type that, I cannot believe that we are already that far into our season. I feel like it was just yesterday when we were starting our fall practices. Even more foreign to me is that fact that this is my fourteenth season as a coach. I swear I just arrived at William Carey a week ago.
Last weekend we had a four game series with Campbellsville University out of Kentucky. My dad made the trip up for Saturday’s games and it was the first time that I’ve seen him since last summer. After a short greeting during batting practice, I sat back down in the dugout and got a little into my feelings. My mind began to race thinking of all of the games he’s been to over the years. I wondered how many more games he’d be able to watch in the future (he now resides in Florida). My thoughts went back to something my grandmother said years ago. She explained that when you are in your teens, you want to press the gas pedal on life to get into your twenties. Then you want to tap the brakes for a while. Next, you press the gas to start a family before again tapping the brakes to keep them from growing up. When the kids are gone, you press the gas to get to retirement. After retiring, you want to slam on the brakes. As the late Bobby Bowden once said, “After you retire there’s only one big game left.”
I considered the conversation years ago with my grandmother and began to realize how accurate she was. For now, I’m tapping the brakes, but they don’t seem to work. The days are sometimes long, but the years are fast. Life is busy and being busy means time moves quickly. After the weekend series was complete, I once again began to think of time. Am I using it according to how I should be? Am I wasting it chasing dreams? Am I giving enough of it to my family? How much will I have left? All questions that I don’t have the answers to at the moment.
Now, I don’t consider myself old or “seasoned” by any means, but I began to think about things that I used to be able to do that are more difficult now. I just finished one of the most challenging deer seasons of my life. Was it challenging because I’m just getting older and have a harder time adapting to the elements? I know there were plenty of mornings that I woke up with an aching back and sore knees…something that certainly didn’t happen 10-15 years ago. Is that a byproduct of time, or have I gotten more domesticated? The older I get, the more I realize the importance of creature comforts. I pretend to ignore my body and act like I’m still 22, but I’m not.
I’ve had the blessing of having been around some of the best outdoorsmen that I know. Now, seeing that they aren’t able to hunt and fish like they used to sounds alarms in my head. In the grand scheme of things, I’m not too far behind them. Lord willing, I’ve got a few more decades left of being able to enjoy the things that I’m doing now. To many, that will seem like a long time, but thirty years slips by much faster than you think. I’m to the point in life now where I can remember my dad being my age and thinking that he was ancient. That scares the crap out of me.
On the flip side, there’s another old saying that I’m becoming fonder of, “with age comes wisdom.” That’s a saying that I’m clinging to these days. I’m certainly more careful of where I put my feet in the woods, and I take far less risks in the outdoors than I did 15 years ago. Then again, is that wisdom, or just me having to slow down for the sake of not hurting myself? Maybe it’s both. Either way, I’m still tapping the brakes.
Now, I know there will be a few that read this and go, “What the heck is he talking about? I’m way older than him and still going strong!” I’m not saying that I’m taking up a rocking chair and staring at the sky. I’m simply saying there are things that aren’t as easy as they used to be. For instance, I can still throw batting practice all day long (on a good day), but I can’t back up to the mound and strike guys out. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak. If you know me at all, you’ll know that it’s tough on my ego, as well.
As time keeps pressing forward, my plan is to milk it for all that I can. I’m going to throw as many baseballs that my arm will allow, make as many casts as I can, and drag deer out of the woods until my knees can’t take anymore. I’m going to run trot-lines all night, grab catfish with my hands, and fight alligators on a deep sea fishing rod. I’m going to make sure my kids understand the value of time over money. I’m going to make as many memories as I can, and one day I’m going to sit in a rocking chair staring at the sky, and relive every one of them.