I hesitate to write about baseball; I’m married to a walking almanac who is almost sure to notice when I get things wrong. But lately I’ve been considering the streak/slump phenomenon, since it seems to be an apt metaphor for the way I live my life.
As far as I can tell, there are two kinds of hitters in baseball: those who are pretty consistent at the plate, and those who are streaky. Joltin' Joe DiMaggio still holds the Major League record for the longest hitting streak, having had at least one hit in fifty-six consecutive games in the summer of 1941.
In life, I am streaky. That’s a nice way of saying that I am inconsistent. I’ll be on a roll regarding any number of things, from running to baking bread to foot-callus-maintenance. Then something will happen to upset my schedule, and I slump.
And, as in the oft-caricatured commercial, I will feel that I have fallen, and I can’t get up.
Sometimes a slump can be disastrous. In the field of geology, a slump is a particular kind of landslide, one in which the surface of the moving mass of earth remains largely unchanged, but the interior matter is drastically deformed. The most famous slump of this kind will probably be known to many of my readers; it occurred at Thistle, Utah in 1983. It dammed up a creek and the Spanish Fork River, eventually flooding the entire community. Thistle is now a ghost town; only roofs of some of the buildings remain visible.
My slumps are often like the geological kind. The surface of my life will look great; friends will even admire different facets of it. But internally, I’m a mess, and it’s a long time before I can sort everything out. Hopefully I do so before any dams I’ve created are too destructive.
Sometimes I’ll slump in one area while enjoying a streak in another: I’ll have a clutter-free house but a weed-filled yard. Or for weeks I’ll make my 1,000-word-per-day novel-writing goal while ignoring the dreadmill the entire time. Or I’ll indulge in a genealogy binge while skimping on my scripture study.
Sometimes a slump can be a time of retreat and regrouping. When I started this blog almost a year ago, I thought I had things to teach. I’m pretty good at a few things; the blog format seemed ideal for dissemination of some of the wisdom I felt I had gained in various areas over the years. After exactly two posts (one of which I later deleted), I abandoned my new endeavor for three months. I’d had an abrupt and humbling realization that sent me into a regrouping slump for the entire autumn.
When I started posting again in December, it was as a changed person. My focus was no longer on teaching (although, as a Brocket wannabe, I still like to publicize my domestic successes), but on honest expression and learning from others in the blogging community.
Running my life the FlyLady way helped me with consistency for a long while. But I am in a FlyLady slump right now (though the house is pretty clean, and my gorgeous soapstone kitchen sink is a joy to keep shiny: it's a mental thing). Maybe I need to get back in her groove and focus on Baby Steps in the essentials of my life so that I can build up steadiness once again. But I wonder whether, as effective as her methods are, FlyLady can only address the symptoms, and is not a cure for the root disease.
In his excellent book Pure Baseball, Keith Hernandez writes,
When I first came up to the big leagues, pitchers had all too much success worrying me inside. Lou Brock, who worked with me a lot, sat me down one day and asked, “Where do you like the ball?
“Inner half-away.” That’s the lingo for the outer three quarters of the plate.
“That’s right,” Lou agreed. “But worrying about your weakness—the inside corner—is taking away from your strength. Don’t let it do that. Look into your strength.”
Baseball really is profound. The key to overcoming the weakness is not to focus on it, but to look into your strength instead.
I tell people on a regular basis what I believe my Strength is. Perhaps the real question is whether I truly live what I say I believe, whether I can apply the Word to the mundane struggles of my daily life.
And what shall I more say? For the time would fail me to tell of … prophets:
Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions,
Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.
(Hebrews 11: 32-34; emphasis added)