Playing right field, he couldn't get a handle on a couple of line-drive singles. He missed the cut-off man on another. Hitting-wise, the shortstop threw him out on two infield grounders. His coach took him out of the game after four innings.
As we drove home, he was full of excuses.
"It was hot."
"The ball was hit too hard."
"The sun was in my eyes."
"I was bad, wasn't I?" he asked.
His head wasn't in the game. I could tell by his slouchy posture, how he kicked at the grass, and watched a bird fly overhead while his teammates focused on the guy at the plate. I didn't say that, though. Instead I said, "Everyone has their 'off' days."
"Maybe I shouldn't play next year."
I shrugged. "That's your choice," I said.
At the high school level, he'd have to make a choice between playing baseball or joining the track team since they share the same season. He threw discus in track and really enjoyed it. But at the time, he was in junior high baseball. And he was discouraged.
"Everyone's better than me," he said. He slumped down in the seat, pulling the cap over his eyes. "But I love baseball," he mumbled.
I looked at him, and something dawned on me. He sounded like....me. He sounded like me on the days when I wished that I could get an acceptance before I get another rejection. That my computer wasn't so slow. That I could write as lyrical and fresh as that shiny new author at Big Publishing House. Some days I complained more than I composed. It's all just so hard, I thought. Why bother?
On days like that, I just want to wallow in self-pity. And nothing and nobody is going to stop me, by golly. But I love writing, so I'll be back at the computer the next morning if I'm not there the night before. I can't imagine a time when I won't be writing. It's just not possible. It's who I am.
So go ahead and allow yourself an 'off' day if you feel one coming on. Embrace it. Wallow with chocolate, Ben & Jerry's, or whatever your vice.
Then dust yourself off and get back in the game.