In the Zone

Nothing like the carefree play of this age—the freedom of no cellular connectivity. It’s the decades before 2000, the street kid mentality in me trying to make a comeback. With only a land line, we were nearly impossible to find once we stepped outside the home. The past toil of fitting the tip of your index finger in those holes to tug along the curve, seven times around (pre-area code) seems prehistoric; it was easier for moms to pop their heads out the front door and shout, “time to eat” than all that digit maneuvering on the rotary dial to send the nearest mom out to inform us that our play has come to an end. Alongside a street, a creek or even within a house-in-the-making, we found things to keep us preoccupied and if we were thirsty we turned on a hose along the side of a house. The world seemed grander back then, more mysterious without a minicomputer in our palms that distorts the world into artificially created problems of inflated importance. It takes away the childlike curiosity, the imagination of what it means to be human. It was a day filled with a range of discoveries from discipline, control, some not-so-in control, patience, persistence, focus, and a harmony in decision making and free choice. Exploration is a rare occurrence these days, no one wants to venture down the block and start a pick-up game with a new ball or see what grumpy Mr. Schmitt will do when an attempt to hop the fence to fetch the fly ball after it careened into his garden, which tempted a bigger thrill to play ding dong ditch running so fast you thought your heart would explode until you huddled behind a backyard shed and laughed so hard it hurt. And if we were enrolled in a sport, it was far less complicated. I didn’t have a bat for every range of temperature, my coach supplied them and I don’t even recall a choice. Nor a specialized backpack altering my gait, or practice uniform or even cleats. It was myself and my passed down mitt, signed by Ron Cey. On my feet were my all-around tennis shoes that got me to my practice field in about fifteen minutes even if I dilly dallied along the way. If I had a game my coach’s house was one minute from the field and I hitched a ride with her and her daughters, my teammates. These pals played inventively with the remaining mounds of snow as I watched the older kids of this time laden with equipment and packs too bulky for their frames head for their practice in a bubble. The magnitude of free will isn’t played out anymore as youngsters. The will that gives us individuality, that develops the soul, it’s indispensable—it’s the whole ball game of the soul, someone once wisely noted.

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