I remember walking down the hill to the Thrifty Drug store and spending my hard saved quarters on the super ball. I always wanted the neon pink one, but they were always the first picked out of the bin. So, I’d settle for the blue.
I’d walk back up the hill to our driveway, eager to test how high I could bounce the ball. I’d find my spot, throw it down to the ground, and then look up to the sky to see if I could spot my little blue orb. But, I wouldn’t be able to see it.
Inevitably, the ball would hit the ground and then take a trajectory that would send it astray into the neighbor’s ivy, over the house, or down the street to the hill, never to be seen by me again. I am certain that in a thousand years when archeologists explore the area around the house I grew up in, they will be baffled by the little blue things they find in the dig.
I had no clue how to direct the bounce of that little ball.
For many years, my life was a lot like that ball. When events in life would happen – particularly difficult ones, like the ball, I would move at the mercy of the bounce of it. I would simply ride a trajectory assuming I was helpless to direct it. I’d get lost after it the chaos, the obstacles and the hills of life.
But after a particularly life altering bounce (shared in My Story) I realized that for my emotional survival and possibly physical survival, I had to do something to change that. I made the decision mid ride, that I would take the drivers seat and direct this path. It required reflection and work, but the following is how it happened.
Stop Settling for the Blue Ball
Occasionally the only color the ball comes in is blue, and that’s ok. Life deals that to everyone sometimes. But there were many times when I simply settled for the blue ball, not the thing I wanted but the thing that was there. It was my need for gratification, my impatience and lack of belief in my worthiness of the pink ball that was actually keeping me from it. Once I owned my value and self worth, I realized that I didn’t have to settle for less than I needed or deserved. I could hold out for the right thing and not simply take what availability or the trajectory brought.
Change the Surroundings
No matter how many times I bought a ball, I’d bring it back to the same place to bounce. I would end up with the same results – a ball that would escape me. My driveway was familiar territory and an easy place to return to. It was also gravel asphalt and on a hill – not the best place to bounce ball. At the end of the driveway was smooth level cement and a much better spot for bouncing with some certainty. All I had to do was walk up the drive. Changing the surroundings was not always easy. It required stepping into new and unfamiliar territory. By changing my surroundings I was able to create new experiences, new surfaces, new opportunities, and new expectations for where the bounces in life would go. It was critical in changing my pattern and habit of doing the same thing and expecting different results.
Look in the Direction You Want the Ball to Go, but Keep Your Eye on the Ball
I’d throw down that ball and then hyper focus looking up. So much so, that I would lose track of where the ball was actually going. It wasn’t until I would hear a thud on the roof, or a swish of the ivy leaves that I would know where it was going. But by then, it was too late to know it’s actual location because I didn’t actually see the landing spot. The ball would be gone forever. By keeping an awareness of the direction I wanted, and actual location of where I was, everything changed. I was able to course correct, change directions, or find where the landing spot was. I could retrieve the ball when it went astray.
Everyone is bounced around by life. Although it can be challenging, you are not simply stuck riding the bounce to where it takes you. You have choice in how you take that journey. With a little grit, courage, and determination, you can direct the bounce to your better place!