“I didn’t remember it being quite that far down. I don’t remember being so tempted to ‘loft’ the ball. And what in the world is wrong with these rented shoes? Or maybe it’s the lane surface? This just doesn’t feel right; in fact, it feels kinda terrible.”
“It” was a recent attempt at bowling. I’d taken maybe a 15-year break. (Probably more like 25.)
When my dad was in his 80s, one of my brothers asked him what age he thought of himself as being. He said, “Oh, probably about 38.” I’m not 80. But if asked the same question, I’d probably say, “Maybe 42 or so.”
This is a good thing. It is possible to fool oneself in ways that are ill-advised and even dangerous. But, within reason, not worrying much about what you can’t do, and assuming, until proven otherwise, that you still can do what you always have, is more often than not, fairly harmless. (But exceptions are noteworthy.)
On rare occasions, I used to climb up to mess with the lights on our church steeple. One of our church elders, older than me, did the same thing fairly regularly. (Thank the Lord for better lights!) Both of us are pretty sure we still could. And he probably would. I would, too, at great need. But we’d not tell our wives. And, for my part, I now can hardly imagine a need great enough. But I’m confident that I could; I’m just feeling no need now for that particular type of exhilaration.
I used to really enjoy playing racquetball and tennis. It’s been too long now since I’ve played either. But I feel like I could, and I plan to continue feeling like I could until a grandchild shows me otherwise. You see, it just wouldn’t occur to me that I’d lost those skills until it was proven.
So when MawMaw and I took our just-turned-10 grandson out to the play place he recommended—too many people in one place, folks of many different ages but mostly young, loud, and prone to writing on themselves (I’m eternally grateful that I didn’t get the styles of the 70s tattooed on)—we went. He’s such a great kid, and we had such a great time.
My favorite thing was the bowling. I’ve always liked bowling. But, as I said, it’s been a while. I did sort of okay. A few strikes. But it felt funny. It felt bad. And . . .
Bingo! I figured out the physics. (I’m reminded of figuring out the physics of a too-large life preserver after I was tossed out of a raft into Grade 5 rapids of the Nile River a few times a decade or more ago. It went too far up as I went too far down. This bowling “Aha!” experience was less consequential but real.)
Physics, I say. I was not sliding properly. The “approach” felt awkward because at its end, my used-to-be-usual slide wasn’t happening. The release felt terrible. And so did my spine.
But physics became a self-esteem preserver. The years mattered some, but the slide, or lack thereof, mattered more! Shoes? Lane surface? Both? In my old bowling days, the shoes always slid quite nicely. And now, after an internet search, I see that bowlers seriously debate slide preference and control methods. (No surprise, it seems to be like skiing. You need your own stuff. Buying my own ski boots, and then adding other equipment fit to me, has been a wonderful gift to my feet.) But back to bowling.
I do like bowling, and I want to give it a try again soon with some properly sliding shoes. But the fact is that I like a boy named Mickade a lot more than I like bowling. If bowling, which I like, and a loud arcade, which I do not much like, make him smile, then I smile, too.
Living life with some sweet grandkids often brings back, fresher than ever, memories of my own young life. Yes, when I was growing up, our family would go bowling. I thought my “Uncle” Curtis was a thousand years old, but he could destroy those pins! Talk about a slide! And spin!
And Dad? What I really think of now is that, yes, Dad enjoyed bowling with the family. But pretty regularly, just with me or my younger brother and me. Even then, that almost surprised me because Dad was incredibly busy and committed to important work. But he still took time to take me bowling.
Of course, I know why now. Dad didn’t at all dislike bowling. But he absolutely loved me.
I hope you’ve had that kind of priceless blessing. Dads, I hope you’re being sure that your kids have that kind of blessing.
And, whatever your situation, I hope you know right now that you do have a Father who absolutely loves you.
For The Journal