No one thought about balance in a southern suburb of Detroit in the 1960s. I doubt they think of it now. The war was being protested; the Kennedys and civil rights leaders were being assassinated, some kind of riot filled the city’s streets. What did I care? The Tigers were trying to win the pennant. McClain had a chance at 30 wins. We had Horton and Kaline and Cash. I spent hours tossing a tennis ball against our garage, pitching no hitters for the Tigers.
We lived in a brick house with an aboveground pool. My father put up a chain-link fence around our backyard with green and white metal slats weaved through the fencing for maximum privacy. I guess the outside world was unsafe. Most of our neighbors had nearly identical houses. My best friend’s house mirrored my own. Like most kids, we were drawn to our small pockets of nature – a vacant field, a small creek running through a manicured park – where we collected snakes and crayfish and kept them in shoe boxes or tin coffee cans. Other than that, no one gave much thought to our place within the ecological environment within which we lived. Other than basic elementary science, no thought was given to the sun and moon, the balance between them, how the mouse needed the hawk. Life’s mysteries were never discussed, though an almighty being was mentioned when convenient, when necessary, without much conviction. Nature was a funhouse we infrequently visited, a place to recharge. I always felt instantly transformed into someone or something that was actually a part of the planet whenever my toes touched the soil. Only young animals and indigenous people, however, learned how to thrive and survive within the wildness of nature’s laws. Our teachings were restricted to the proper behavior required for functioning within mankind’s rules and expectations instead.
Amazing, I know.
It was easy to become unhinged.
The foundation was incomplete. Except for what my brother taught me. He chastised me for standing upright in the outfield, one leg crossed behind the other. Lollygagging, I think he’d said.
You’re not ready. You have to crouch, legs spread, body balanced, gloved and throwing hands ready with every pitch; be prepared to pounce in whatever direction the ball flies.
Batting was the same. Create a solid foundation, feet shoulder width apart, a level swing. If you weren’t balanced, you didn’t have a chance; you’d falter, you’d topple over.
Should have applied that to everything.
Eat a balanced diet.
Exercise, don’t kill yourself.
Keep your mind steady.
Work hard, play hard.
Find your other half and treat her right, as if she were, literally, your other half.