Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Inside My Telephone Booth

So many times when I hear about so-and-so, the actor/movie-star/celebrity who has fallen from public grace, I feel a little pang of sorrow. How many of us regular people have to worry about if everyone is watching to see if we fall? Perhaps we think the world is watching. Perhaps they are, but most of us don't have to think twice about getting caught outside of our house wearing sweats and a baseball hat, or the damage it may do.
I often refer to this concept as 'living in a fishbowl'. Everyone stares in,  as if your little life is going to send the world off tilt.
For me, and maybe other blind people as well, I live in a telephone booth.
Everything that happens in my world is only present about 18 inches from my face. If I'm outside in fat pants and a polka dot Sari, as far as I'm concerned, no one knows but me. When I hear about it from my friends a couple of days later, I remember I do not live on the acreage of Little House on The Prairie, and people are watching.
Sometimes my own private darkness is a barrier to things I would like to experience again. Driving, Art, Scenery, my children's faces. But there are times when my phone booth is safety
A few years before my kidney transplant my husband Erik, and I played on a co-ed softball team. I was originally allowed to play because in co-ed you need a certain number of women players or your team forfeits. My brother -in-law, who sponsored the team was in a pinch for female players and I guess he figured a blind player was better than a forfeit. I love softball. I played when I was a teenager, the chance to play with my husband, and the camaraderie with the team was wonderful. It is still one of my favorite times, and my favorite people are friends from softball.
As great as it was for me, you can probably imagine that I wasn't much of an asset to the team. I practiced with the team, my husband, and my family and I eventually got to the point where I wasn't the worst player on the team.
-I actually might have been the worst player on the team, but I set a goal for myself at the start of the game and if I met the goal...then I wasn't the worst player. Fantasy world at its finest, but those are the blessings of being blind. No one can tell you your fantasy world isn't as real as their reality.
Some of my goals were: to make it all the way around the bases, to hit the ball past the dirt, to field a ball.
Most of the teams we played against were very patient and helpful with the blind woman. I had pitchers that would tell me when they were about to throw the ball. I had umpires who let Erik stand behind the plate and tell me to swing or not. I didn't always take his advice, but he got to give it. I also had other players who laughed, played and had a great time with the game just because I was playing for fun.
Every once in a while I would end up in dangerous situations because the darkness made it impossible to prepare myself to defend my body against the ball. I had a short stop throw the ball at my head as I rounded first base and headed for second. He missed, thank heavens for both him and I. I would probably have suffered a broken skull, and he would have ended up with his teeth knocked in by my husband. Usually Erik was nearby and could warn me but there were times when I stood alone behind second base and counted on my Telephone Booth for protection.
One particular evening we were playing and I was listening to the game. Listening for the sound of the ball striking either a glove or a bat. Listening to the rustle of grass compared to the scratch of leather against gravel for a foul, or the poofing sound the ball made when it hit the dirt of the infield.
I was so intent on sorting the sounds because my goal for that game was to get in front of the ball If it came my way. I knew catching it was probably beyond my skill set but if I could stop it from going into the outfield at least I could slow down the other team.
I listened as the pitcher let the ball go, I heard the crack of the bat, and I heard a throng of voices calling my name. I did not comprehend the warning though. A few seconds before the ball dropped toward my head I heard it buzz through the air. I didn't have time to assess its position, trajectory, or rate of descent. All I could do was stand in my telephone booth and wait for the ball to drop.
I heard three things: Shouts and screams of horror, my pony tail whispering against my collar, and the thud of the ball directly behind me. And then...dead silence as the field held its breath.
I turned around, groped for the ball and threw it back to the pitcher.The crowd went wild.
No, I hadn't made some miraculous play. I'm pretty sure the guy who hit the ball made at least a double. I don't even think we won that game. But when that line drive headed right for my head, it was obvious to everyone except me that disaster was imminent.
I think if I had known I would have covered my head, thrown myself to the ground, or at least side-stepped to try to get out of the way. The wrong move in that situation could have been extremely painful. when the ball plummeted past my head, pushed my ponytail aside, and dropped behind me I was safe in my phone booth. If I'd tried to fix the problem myself I'd have ended up with a very bad headache at the least.
I have never forgotten this experience because it taught me a great lesson. "Darkness is rampant in the world. The kind a lot of people don't even realize is swirling all around them. Health, financial,dietary, and emotional problems that come flying at us from all around.
My darkness, my phone booth of protection, can be a barrier against this more insipid kind. When trials seem to thunder overhead like a gathering storm making the darkness more prevalent than the light, remember this lesson and one of my favorite scriptures that goes with it.
"Be still, and KNOW that I am God."
The troubles and trials of life are often bigger and scarier than we know how to handle. Sometimes the solution is to stand in your phone booth,hold hands with God,  and be still until the ball has dropped. .

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