Mark has brought us another great Goodness post. One we can all benefit from…
There is something beautiful, and predictable about trajectory. I also find it dastardly and deceptive! Trajectory is typically considered a physics word that describes the path of an object over time and its relationship to gravity. For example, if you want to throw a rock and accurately hit a target 30 feet away, you’ll need to aim a little high to take gravity into account. That arc you will be using to hit the target is trajectory. It’s math – so it is familiar,
reliable, and comfortingly predictable.
Not so fast. You can put a guy 60’ 6” away from me (the distance on a baseball field from the pitcher to the batter) give him a baseball and give me a bat. If he’s throwing fastballs, that is a trajectory that I am very comfortable with. I’ve got that! However, the geniuses who
invented the baseball included stitches sewn to hold two hourglass shaped pieces of hide together to cover the windings of string and yarn inside a baseball. If used cleverly, those stitches cause me a lot of trouble. You see, the stitches introduce a level of friction to the physics equation that creates my trouble. In the hands of an experienced pitcher, the ball is released in such a way that the stitches fight the air the ball passes through with such friction that in doing so, the trajectory is greatly exaggerated. The result is a curveball. You can get through Little League as an all-star until some kid starts throwing a curveball late in your teens. You will never make it to the pros if you can’t hit the curveball. That’s a fact.
This pitch has entered our normal conversation by describing an unlikely turn of events or an unexpected disappointment. “Wow! I didn’t see that coming; that was a real curveball!” Here’s the thing, while the trajectory may not be straight, it is still predictable and THAT is why good players are able to hit it successfully. It may be dastardly and deceptive but it is predictable and you must be flexible enough to adjust to it.
In life, I get this unnamable thrill out of socializing in big groups, I love it – I put mustard on it and eat it up! But if a curveball comes at me I still buckle and hesitate and ultimately – I miss. For example: I am humming along enjoying conversation in a group setting last week when I am engaged with a question from a young adult with special needs. This guy is a high functioning Autistic man. He lives on his own, takes care of himself, enjoys life and is himself
enjoyed by others. He’s only been talking for 10 years or so and his voice, apparently from its late development, is somewhat unusual. So when he entered the conversation, it was a curveball. I froze a little. He saw it. I hated what happened. I whiffed and had to sit out of
the chat for a minute. It’s ok, it worked out and everything is cool but it got my attention.
I have to be aware and flexible. I cannot become complacent. I need to look for your stitches, the places on you that have been sewn together – maybe from an old wound or heartache, and I need to look deliberately at you and see you. I have the ability to see a curve and predict its trajectory. You see, the stitches give it away. The way the ball spins tells you if it is a curveball or not. When you see that rotation on the ball, you know what is coming and you adjust to it. My new buddy gave me all the signs that I needed to lean into him and listen closely and make
good eye contact in my conversation with him because verbal communication was difficult for him. It was a friction for his stitches. But I got complacent and didn’t see the spin. It would
have been so great if I could have adjusted immediately and kept this conversation going while welcoming this man properly to the group that was lucky to have his thoughts and insights.
The truth is it would have been great for me, but I choked – somebody else took care of it
and made it great. And I learned a great lesson – The stitches give it away! I have spent a lot of energy over my lifetime either trying to smooth out my stitches or distract you from
seeing them. My new hope is that you will look at me deliberately and see me as I am. Be prepared that I can throw you a curve now and then, but love me anyway. If you watch the spin and look at my stitches you can adjust and not freeze up. I’m trying to do the same
How well do you adapt to the unexpected? Consider trajectory.