I came up to bat with adrenaline rushing through my veins. It was a moment every baseball player lives for. It was the second to last inning in the Georgia high school state championships. My team was down by three. I was batting with the bases loaded and one out. A home run would give us the lead and allow me to be the hero that would led the way to a win.
Before leaving the dugout, I picked a different bat than the one I usually used – this one was the biggest we had. Normally, it was a bit too heavy for me, but for this situation, I wanted the best for hitting homeruns. As I walked out toward home plate, I looked out into the crowd of over a thousand. It seemed like everyone from my hometown was there. “Come on, Nick!” They shouted. “You can do it!”
Since I was a little kid, I had dreamed of being in a moment like this. But, none of that was going through my mind right now. Nor did I think of the thousands of hours of practice I spent training for this sport I loved. My mind was only focused on hitting that small white ball as far as I could.
I kicked my cleats in the red dirt to get a good footing. I knew the pitcher was struggling to throw a strike, so I was ready to pounce on the first pitch that was close.
The first pitch came sailing high – just where I like them. I swung as hard as I could, but I missed by a couple of centimeters, hitting the lower portion of the ball. The ball flew up fifty feet then fell into the crowd out of play. All of the fans let out a huge exhale. I heard whispers of: “Wow, I’ve never seen him swing that hard,” and “If he would have hit that solid, it’d been out of the park.” I tried to maintain my concentration, getting ready for the next pitch.
When the next pitch came in, I again swung with all my might. This time the pitch was low and outside, too far for me to reach. I nearly fell down trying to chase it. Bad decision.
Now, I had dug myself into a hole. One more strike, and I would let down the team. I had to at least get a hit to keep our hopes alive.
The pitcher then threw three consecutive balls, hoping I would commit the similar mistake again. I restrained, setting up one last pitch. I took some time to pace around to get all the butterflies out of my stomach. I reentered the batter’s box, part of me in fear that I’d fail; the other part of me anxious to be the hero.
The last pitch came right down the middle of plate. My eyes grew wide, but as I decided to swing a bit of fear hit me. This time, I took more of a relaxed swing to make contact with the ball, but the bat did not strike the ball squarely. I again hit the ball up in the air, this time to the direction of the second baseman who was able to catch it for an easy out.
My hopes of being the hero were dashed. Our team was unable to mount a comeback, and we saw our opponents celebrate triumphantly on our own field. For the weeks that followed, I could not help but to blame myself for the loss and ask: “What if…” What if I swung harder on this last pitch? What if I’d have practiced more that week?
I Sure Am Lucky
I started this book by providing you a glimpse of a Hawaiian vacation that felt like paradise to me. To give you a better understanding of my view of the Good Life, I knew it would be appropriate to end this book with a story that highlights one of my moments of disappointment and loss.
Though I have taken a bit of an arrogant tone describing all the amazing things I’ve been able to do recent years, I want to conclude this book by emphasizing how I have had my greatest education into the Good Life by experiencing struggle, hardship, and loss.
I have had an extremely fortunate life where I have been able to receive a top-notch education, meet extraordinary people, travel the world without a strict budget, and accomplish amazing physical feats. Having an incredible life that many envy helped create a great author bio on the back cover of this book. But, that person on the back cover is not living the Good Life and, quite frankly, I hope you hate that type of the person who seems to be perfect in so many ways.
My true qualifications for writing this book come from losing my father to suicide; considering committing suicide myself; having trouble finding a job that keeps me happy and financially stable; receiving hundreds of rejection letters from publishers unwilling to publish my books; and working until three a.m. many consecutive days thinking I had to do whatever it took to become “successful.” I’ve found out what it feels like to let down my family and the girl I thought I’d spend the rest of my life with. I’ve even struggled to believe in the God I once made a commitment to love for the rest of my life.
By experiencing tough times, I had to dig deep inside myself to learn who I really am and discover what it takes to overcome. All the previous chapters highlight how the Good Life can be found in many ways, but it takes great determination for us to develop the state of mind and passion to create similar life stories. Many of us never fully gain this commitment until we face death, intense struggle, or great pain.
I included the word crisis in the title of this book for a reason. Mainly, I wanted you to think that a Good Life Crisis is an epiphany moment that would be the opposite of a mid-life crisis. However, another reason alludes to the idea that you may have to go through a crisis or difficult times to know how great life can be.
Part II is continued here.
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