A Long Way to Go

     The “dog days of summer.” I remember hearing that phrase as a kid. I associated that phrase with being bored, being hot, being ready for something new. The thing was, however, I lived in a really small town. There was not much to do, especially when we were young. Of course, we had no devices or electronic gadgets. My family didn’t even get a television until well after all my friends. School was still weeks away. Our baseball league had pretty much wrapped up by the end of July. Swimming lessons were finished. We probably caught the same six sunfish that we had been catching all summer – and had already tossed them back in to the lake. As far as summer went, there was still a long way to go.

     When we’re young, the road ahead looks pretty long for most of us, I would guess. Starting a new school year is just one of many to follow. Even graduating from high school could signal yet another long road ahead if we ended up going to college (or beyond). Relationships, friendships, teammates we grew up with change and perhaps fade away. As our universe expands, we don’t have to rely on the same little group of people to play with that we did before we could drive, or before we moved across the country. So, in a lot of cases, the long roads in front of us seemed pretty desolate, pretty lonely. And if we WERE traveling with someone (like in a marriage), we could still seem very isolated from others.

     Now in my later years, with not so much of a road in front of me, I wonder where all the time went. What did I do, really? I can recount stories, people, places, events and all of that but it seems like a flash. I tend not to focus on the drudgery or pain that may have prevailed at times. I like to recall the good stuff. People often comment on my positive nature. Well, why not? I like thinking of the past as well as the future in positive terms. It makes the present that much more enjoyable. I guess that’s why I like baseball so much. It’s a very long season. It could be a very long way to go, if the team is not getting along or if negativity creeps in to the dugout. But at this point in the season, there are fewer games to go than what we faced this past April. Some teams are so out of first place, as a matter of fact, they can actually plan on doing something the day after the regular season ends. No World Series for them.

     Batters can enter into slumps at this point of the summer. Pitchers can feel their arms just not being able to throw one particular pitch the way they want; they had it earlier in the year and now they don’t.  Some players may feel like they’re just going through the motions until October comes and they play their final game of the season. Now is really when everyone needs to show up. Dig in. Suck less. Find some reason, some image, some idea to focus on and go for it. Maybe it will be the image of that kid in the stands who is coming to his or her first major league game. Maybe it’s the idea of a team or band of brothers that will get someone fired up. And then it comes down to duty. Obligation. Commitment. Not necessarily fun words but critical if we are to make it to the end of the road. Dog days or not.

     Time to rise up and cheer. Let’s go to a ball game, while we still can. Let’s get into the game, the cheering, the action. It really is that simple. A long road can look intimidating or it can simply indicate the path that we will be on (or are on) for some period of time. For some us, that path is shorter than others’. Oh well, let’s travel it and make the most of it for as long as we have. Play ball! Batter up! Because, after all, you’ve got this. Atta boy! Atta girl!

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