If you know me, you know how excited I get about the start of the preseason and the chance to see my Steelers on the field.
Yes, I know it doesn’t “count,” so to speak. But it is still a chance to see my boys in action, to watch my old faithfuls strut their stuff a little and see what the new kids on the block might have up their sleeves.
The first game against the Redskins was a rocky start. But last week’s game against this years “dream team,” the Eagles, gave me lots to squeal and cheer about.
In spite of my excitement, I realized something partway into the game. Back in May, I posted about my excitement over the Steelers aquiring rookie Baron Batch. My very unfootballish confession was that I was psyched over Baron not just because of his potential as a player – it was his mad writing skills that had reeled me in. I’d discovered Baron’s blog, and was super-impressed with his raw, inspirational writing style and his photography.
A true sense of self-awareness and humility is a rare thing for someone in their early 20s. It is an even rarer thing for someone so young who has been skyrocketed into the spotlight and given the opportunity to live their dream. Baron’s blogs made it clear that he was aware of that. He wrote about his struggles to stay humble. He talked about all the newfound attention, and how hard it was not to let it go to his head. He was forthright and insightful about something I think many on-their-way-to-famous types either fall right into or try to pretend isn’t happening at all.
So I was very much looking forward to seeing Baron put on the black and gold and get in the game. But there we were in the middle of the second preseason game, and I hadn’t seen him yet.
I’ve been a bit behind on blog reading. Work, the gym and my own writing have pretty much consumed my waking hours. But this past weekend, I made a point to visit Baron’s blog to see what was going on.
As it turns out, I hadn’t seen him in the preseason games because he won’t be playing this go-round. After making a big play in practice, he was carted off the field with an injury that turned out to be a torn ACL. Instead of making his debut as a NFL player, Baron is icing his knee and awaiting surgery.
My own athletic ability is limited to doing my walk/run on the treadmill. I think I’m kicking butt if I manage to use an exercise ball to do crunches without toppling off the thing at some point midway through my regimen. So I have no clue what it must feel like to be good enough to make it, then have the dream yanked from you – at least for a while – by a popping sound and a burst of pain in your knee.
But as a writer who dreams of success, I can imagine. What if I finished my novel, and was one of the lucky few who got a publisher to say “yes?” What if they saw potential in my work and wanted to hype it up, and had me prepared to hit bookshelves and e-readers in the next year? And then, out of the blue, something happened that changed their mind. It wasn’t that they’d NEVER publish it, just not nearly as soon as I’d hoped.
You never know until you are there, but I think I’d be crushed and deflated. I’d pick myself up and keep trying. What other choice do we have? But how very hard that would be.
That’s why Baron’s blog post A Storm is Coming brought tears to my eyes. With his usual honesty and insight, he talks about his struggle to hold onto faith rather than succumbing to doubt. He talks about how he wants to do this not only for himself, but as an example to others who are chasing a dream in spite of seemingly insurmountable obstacles.
This post is my attempt to help Baron do just that, because his words sure sunk in for me. My fellow Life Listers can relate to this struggle, I’m sure. Over the last month or so, we’ve all felt daily life and unpredicted challenges ebbing away at the time and energy we have for our goals. And although we’re not in uniform on a field, all of us hoping to make it as writers are playing a very difficult game. It comes with its own injuries, although they are much harder to see than a swollen knee.
There’s a lot to take away from the words of this young man who is choosing to hold on to faith. I hope you’ll be as inspired and reassured as I was.
I won’t see Baron in the game at Heinz Field this year. But I will. And when I do, it will have been worth the wait. For Steelers fans, certainly. But most of all, for him.