To be lost is usually a scary idea. Whether you are in a new place, or in a bad mindset, or lose your bearings, whatever the cause, to be lost is usually a terrifying, confusing ordeal. However, there are a few cases where being lost is actually quite lovely. This morning, for example, I got lost- in a story called “The Art of Fielding” by Chad Harbach.
I’m not exactly sure what it is about this book that makes me get swept away, but there is something soothing and familiar about the story, to which I have hardly any personal experiences or stories connecting me. It’s set in a small Midwestern town at a liberal arts school, with an up and coming baseball team. The star player, Henry Skrimshander, is both likable and easy to relate to in his plights. Yes, he has plights, despite being the best shortstop MLB scouts have seen in many, many years. Despite his near-perfect record for multiple seasons, when the moment of truth comes, he begins to choke. Routine throws from short to first fly high and outside of even the tallest first baseman’s arms. He misses basic drill throws, and has no idea why. Double pumping his arm before releasing and double stepping before throwing- all signs of someone over-thinking the most instinctual of movements. Anyway, I got lost in the idea of someone seemingly so self-assured being crushed by an unexplainable and sudden doubt. It’s such a familiar idea, isn’t it?
I digress. It was amazing to me how dream-like my morning was, with my nose in the book between bus stops, and as I sauntered through the hallway from the break room to my desk. I snuck a glance at Henry’s next movements, with every spare moment until the time I had to get really going. The sudden change in my mood between the moment when I had to close the book, to my first charge I ran in our processing system was palpable. The sense of my morning being a private ritual was gone, and business had begun. It’s been a long time since I have experienced a little vacation from reality as strong as that one. It makes me look forward to the next time I can give Henry and the Harpooners another 15 minutes of my time. This book has lasted me a while, and never have I been so thankful for it. By the way, do I need to say that it comes highly suggested, and that as a baseball fan or not, you should do yourself a favor and take your own crack at it?