36 - What Took You So Long

There have only been roughly 18,000 players in the history of Major League Baseball. How many out of that number have played in a playoff game? One third maybe? I’ve played over 1,400 games, and that was my first playoff series. Out of those 6,000 or so, how many players have been lucky enough to be in a position to change the outcome of a playoff series with one swing? Maybe 10 percent? And how many have succeeded?

None of this math was going through my head when I was standing at the plate. That came later on, when I had time to reflect at home. All I was thinking in the moment was, This is your chance. Just relax. Get ready early. See it and hit it. – Jose Bautista, Are You Flipping Kidding Me?

Bautista didn’t just hit it; he crushed it.

That moment meant more for the die-hard Blue Jay fans than anything in the past 22 seasons of play. It’s difficult to place into words how meaningful it was. The raw emotions that people felt from coast to coast to coast were such a mix: tears of joy, excitement, amazement, disbelief.

Today is my 36th birthday. It’s the fifth year I have written these retrospections of the past year. Each year, I seem to learn more about myself, especially when reading through the previous years’ posts. It is an interesting journey to re-read the heartache, the stress, and the small breakthroughs I continue to make. This year has been no different. More stress and breakthrough than heartache, but that is to be expected when I have problems dating.

This year, I wanted to start with baseball. Not because it delivered one of the biggest moments of the year for me, but for how it relates to my minor breakthrough this year.

Baseball is measured by a player’s ability to fail less than the rest. Percentages, decimal points, even the game is ended with a failure- an out. Failure is inevitable in baseball, it’s just a matter of who fails less than the others in the game.

Failure is inevitable in life, as well. It is something we want to avoid as much as possible, but despite our attempts to get around it, it happens. This year has taught me more about how to deal with failure than ever before.

In previous years, I fostered this deep anger inside me when things didn’t go right. I can see it in the words I used when writing about the breakup four years ago, or the struggles I faced in building up readership for this blog. My cure for the hurt and disappointment was always to write

There have been multiple times before where I wanted to sit down and write out my thoughts, to respond to other blog posts, and to zone out while watching a movie. It is what I did in the past to conquer my failures and disappointments. Doing such is not the best way for me to feel better, however. It is a band-aid put on a gaping wound.

Writing wasn’t very effective in helping me manage disappointments then, and it wasn’t until this year when things started to change. Reading and writing more about mindfulness and Buddhist practices has helped me focus on what matters: the breath. The present moment.

The past should not be dwelled upon, nor should future achievements. Only on what is happening in the moment.

That point is constantly on my mind now. It is both wonderful and powerful with how it softens the blow of disappointments I have received in the latter half of the year. The biggest test of this happened in September.

Last August, I enrolled to be licensed in property management through the University of British Columbia. I set a deadline of completing the course work before my daughter ended the school year in June. My thinking was I could write the exam in the next month while everything was fresh in my mind. Starting in late January, I started going through the assignments and was on pace to finish on time. I completed the final assignment and then looked at the schedule for when I could write the exam: they were scheduled quarterly, with the next one happening in September.

That was a little disappointing, but no big deal. Several months to enjoy the summer weather with my daughter, manage the vacation rental, and the other work I needed to take care of. August came around and I started to delve back into the material. I was getting nervous about the exam because of the large amount of material involved. In the exam room, I took some deep breaths while they went through the instructions, then wrote the exam rather quickly. I had to wait three weeks for the results.

I failed. Barely, but barely doesn’t matter on an exam score, just like it doesn’t matter in baseball. I missed the homerun by 3 feet. The kind of hits that no one remembers.

After reading the results, I took a hike out to my favourite place, Paul’s Tomb, and sat out on the rocks overlooking the lake. All I did was sit, take it all in, and put the failure behind me. It was a minor setback, something I can overcome in three months time and put myself back on track for greater things. It didn’t matter why I failed, or what questions I missed. The important thing was I was breathing. I would do better.

That tone in thought has continued through the past few months. Not losing weight fast enough? Breathe, and do better. Someone fails to pay me back on time leaving me short? Breathe, and make do. Someone lies to me or tries to start an argument? Breathe, and put it behind me as fast as I can without letting it escalate into something worse.

A constant cycle of deep breathing, and emphasizing what matters most to me in each moment.

Putting the emphasis back on me and not putting so much energy towards negative things that have happened in my life has improved my outlook on life. It is still difficult at times, of course, and I know failure is right around the corner once again. When it does happen though, I will be better prepared to handle it.

I am sure I will read this over next year and for years after wondering, “What took you so long?”


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Five ways to wish me a happy birthday:

  1. Treat yourself to some of the best coffee out there, and give me a cup at the same time at: Blue Bottle Coffee
  2. Order the Aeropress, my favourite way to brew coffee: Canada and USA
  3. Order one of my favourite books this year which set me down the mindfulness/Buddhist path: Buddha Walks Into a Bar: A Guide to Life for a New Generation
  4. Discover some really great products at BespokePost or read my Bespoke Post Review
  5. Or make a Donation