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Sunday, March 25, 2012

Roll with it!

A couple of weeks ago, I participated in Bowling for Kids' Sake, a charity event benefiting Big Brothers and Big Sisters. It was a blast bowling with my team in a fun competitive setting.  As I played, I was struck how certain aspects of bowling can be an analogy of life.
For instance, in the game, you are constantly adjusting to the changes of the lanes. Other people throw their bowling balls differently, making the oil on the lanes move around.  Consequently, even when you throw your ball, you are also contributing to the changing lane conditions. Even when you become annoyed that your ball isn’t performing exactly the way it was a frame ago, you don’t stop playing. You move your spot, you bowl with your plastic ball instead of your reactive resin-- in other words, you adjust.
Another characteristic in bowling is each frame can be a game changer.   You find the perfect spot to throw your ball and knock down all the pins. Then just as suddenly, you can throw a gutter ball. However, you can pick up a spare in the next frame and raise your score. In other words, no matter what happened before, there is always hope in the future.  
The last item I noticed is bowling is the one game the players bring their own personal equipment, namely shoes, towels and especially bowling balls. The ball is drilled to your hand and the way you throw, whether it be a hook, palm or conventional. No one else can bowl with your ball. Also, you chose your ball, so it is distinctive on the rack.  It’s as if it has its own personality, an extension of yourself. In other words, even as you go through life, you never lose yourself.
Maybe that’s why bowling is popular since we can relate to it. Or maybe it’s because what other game can you sit between frames and eat nachos as you play?

Sunday, March 4, 2012

What do you mean a doll?!


Sometimes a memory hits me with full force that I experience the initial feelings of that time. Then when these raw emotions subside, a clearer perspective takes over.
For instance, I remembered a visit to my husband’s great aunt in the hospital over a decade ago. Dorothy was the matriarch of his family--it didn’t matter she was not a mom herself. She was a woman with good old common sense, who didn’t mince words and you always knew where you stood with her.   
My mother-in- law and husband were with me on this visit. At this time, I happened to be 6 months pregnant with our son. This period of the pregnancy was spectacular—I was well over the morning sickness and my tummy was protruding out with the unmistakable bulge.   Whenever I entered a room, I was the complete center of attention. Seats were always offered to me, cooing admirers would materialize out of nowhere, gushing out congratulations.  To be perfectly honest, I was really starting to get used to this attention!
As we all settled in to visiting Dorothy, she introduced the woman sharing her room. She was about the same age as Dorothy, who was in her sixties at the time. After the initial pleasantries and questions on how she was doing, the woman set her eyes on me and announced, “Oh, so you’re having a baby?”
“Yes, she is!” my mother-in- law interjected proudly. I nodded, waiting for the inevitable compliment.
“Well, you’d be better off if you just carried a doll around with you!” the woman sniffed.
I was stunned. Honestly, this was the first time anyone wasn’t bowled over by my present motherly condition. Then, I thought this was a bit mean spirited. I watched the reactions in the room. I knew I could be overly sensitive and didn’t want to overreact by bursting into tears, though I felt my face flush with embarrassment. Dorothy laughed off her comment in almost agreement.  My mother-in- law’s frozen smile started to droop, along with her eye contact. My husband changed his seating arrangement so his back faced the woman and he didn’t acknowledge her again.
Thankfully, the nurse came in to take their lunch orders, giving us the perfect time to leave. My mother- in-law said goodbye to both Dorothy and the woman, saying it was a pleasure to meet her. However, my husband, in true form, only said farewell to Dorothy. I was just glad to get out of there.
Looking back, I can identify a couple of items that disturbed me about this incident. First, I was upset that Dorothy seemed to agree that carrying a toy was better than a baby.  Her reaction made no sense to me—she was always the first one to ask me how I was feeling, when was my next doctor’s appointment and how she hoped I would have a girl. Now, as I look at it logically, she wasn’t showing her true feelings in that hospital room—she probably agreed with the woman so their stay would be a pleasant one on the surface. She had enough health issues without stirring up an argument.
The other disturbing part is the woman’s words themselves. After being angry at her rudeness of her cutting remark, I remembered that she had no one visiting her. The nightstand by her hospital bed was bare-- no get well cards nor flowers in sight. Now I wonder what happened in her life journey to make her feel that an inanimate object could possibly take the place of your own flesh and blood.  True, there was venom in her words, but now I don’t think they were directed solely at me.
 I’ve let go of the flush of anger at this memory. I’m not sure if I can ever laugh it off, as Dorothy did, but I truly do feel sorry for this woman and wish her peace.