Taking a Mulligan in the Game of Life
Everyday decisions made throughout our lives lead to unknown paths. This we know. It’s these decisions that mold our present standing, and our futures. But it’s only human to reflect on missed opportunities, which, to say the least, can be frustrating,
What if there was a decision in your past that you could change? What if life gave you a mulligan? How much different would your life be? Perhaps your life wouldn’t change that much – that’s what you might tell yourself. But if you’re honest, you might admit that your life really could have been that much more enriched and complete by seizing an opportunity, rather than saying, “Nah, I’ll pass.”
I’d given this idea plenty of thought while working on my novel, One to Go. In the novel, the “life rewind” becomes a central part of the plot, and I would sit at night after writing and reflect on the things that I’d like to change, given the opportunity. I thought about what my life would have been like had I started writing at a younger age. What if I spent more time with the kids, and less time working? As I contemplated deeper regrets, I thought about something a bit more lighthearted: What if I’d just gone to Camden Yards on Sept. 6, 1995?
Every serious baseball fan will recognize it as the day Cal Ripken surpassed Lou Gehrig to become baseball’s Ironman. I had a chance to attend this historical game, but I passed due to the cost of the tickets. Instead, I sat at home like millions of other people and witnessed one of my favorite players break a record that will most likely never be touched: successfully starting 2,131 consecutive games. Simply put, it would be like going to work every day for about eight years—excluding weekends.
I watched the game from my couch that night and pumped my fist when Cal Ripken hit a home run during the sixth inning. I remember calling my brother and talking about the game as Ripken trotted around the entire outfield warning track, shaking hands with anyone he could touch. Baseball historians credit this as the moment that healed the heartbreak of baseball fans following the strike of 1994.
Last week was the 19th anniversary of this game and, as I was watching the Orioles game, they showed some of the highlights. I immediately said to myself, “Mike, you should have gone,” but I didn’t. On Sept. 6 next year, when everyone will be celebrating the 20th anniversary, I’ll check eBay, when the ticket stubs have most likely doubled in value, and I could have made back what I would’ve originally spent.
My wife always reassures me that it’s just a baseball game. As Orioles fans, however, we haven’t had much to cheer for. I’m hoping that’ll change in a few short weeks, when my Orioles may be in the World Series. If so, it’s an opportunity I have promised myself not to miss.
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