By Dave Balch
When I was about 11 I joined little league and played baseball. Well, that’s not exactly true… I TRIED to play baseball. I was a good runner, but my batting and catching weren’t so hot, and when you’re talking baseball that pretty much kills the deal. But I digress…
During batting practice one day I kept swinging the bat but missing the ball. This kept happening over and over until the coach came over to me and said, “You’re not watching the ball as it’s coming toward you. You can’t hit it if you don’t look at it. Keep your eye on the ball.” I realized that I wasn’t looking at the ball because I was distracted by the fear that it might hit me. To put it another way, hitting the ball was the goal and if I didn’t keep focused on the ball I couldn’t hit it.
The very next pitch I did what he said, though, and hit the ball solidly over the pitcher’s head. Even today I can still feel that satisfying thump and hear the loud crack of the bat when I hit it. It felt good. I was proud. (The fact that I can still remember that one moment tells you something about how many times I was successful at bat!)
What does this have to do with stress? Everything, because as you are living your stressful life, dealing with cancer, and trying to cope sometimes the stressful things we are dealing with get the better of us and we get caught up in them. We get so upset about one particular situation or incident that we get distracted from the ultimate goal, which is to deal effectively with our lives.
I, too, am trying to control my own stress, which is caused by my wife’s cancer and welfare as well as too much month left over after the end of the money. I try to practice what I preach and most of the time I’m doing ok, but last night I was packing for a speaking engagement and I couldn’t find my toothpaste. I lost it. I was frustrated because I had left my shaving kit in a hotel room during a trip last week and I just couldn’t believe that I had left my toothpaste as well. Suddenly I was slamming doors and throwing my clothes around… I had taken my eye off the ball.
After about five minutes of this nonsense my wife came in and said, “You’re going to give yourself a stroke!”
She was right. It was stupid and I knew it. And it was over.
I remembered to watch the ball, and the rest of my packing went smoothly. SIDE NOTE: the toothpaste was right where it was supposed to be, with all of my other liquids and pastes in the little clear plastic bag required by airport security. DOH!
It’s very easy to get distracted and let little things get to you. Coping with cancer and the related stress is a tricky business, so keep at it and remember to watch the ball!