You've got to keep throwing, even when you're ahead of the curve

jdbruewer's picture

Once again, I'm about five years ahead of the curve.

All my life, I've been ahead of popular culture by about five years. Beer can collecting, beer brewing, poker and countless other trends have become popular just as I was getting tired of them.

Many other times, ideas that got me laughed at were seen as good ideas five years later. Ideas like travel journalism, customized content management and overpriced coffee. OK, the overpriced coffee thing wasn't my idea, but I wish I had thought of it first.

I never thought it would happen with being a dad.

My oldest daughter is 5 now. Five years ago, I went through the revelation of becoming a dad, and I was an evangelist for fathers being actively and equally involved with their families. People seemed surprised to see me taking my daughter with me, everywhere. Before she was 1, she had covered a meeting or two with me, checked police reports and helped DJ a wedding.

I wrote many, many columns about the wonder with which I viewed my first daughter, the trials of adopting my second and the revelations that seemed to come every day. Those columns never seemed to resonate with my audience.

So, it is with mixed feelings that I witness a seeming explosion of dad-tivism.

The Web is full of dad-centric sites like manofthehouse.com, dadcentric.com and dadlabs.com, not to mention Geekdad, Metrodad, Mochadad, Savvydaddy and, of course, RealMenDriveMinivans.com.

I'm not sure how I feel about all this. I'm still passionate about being a father. I'm glad more people are talking about what that means, the good and the bad. I just wish I had timed my paternal epiphany a little better.

I read these blogs with a mixture of camaraderie and competition. I can relate to what these dads say, but sometimes feel I've said it better, and sooner.

I was stewing on that one night when my favorite dad/baseball movie came on the TV: 2002's “The Rookie,” about a nearly-40 dad who leaves his family, temporarily and with his wife's blessing, to pursue a baseball career.

It hits on themes that tug at a man's heart, at least this man's heart: the tug-of-war between parental responsibility and pursuing your dreams, the desire for a father's approval and a child's, too. Being a 40-ish dad, the thought of recapturing the skills of my youth is nice, too.

For those of you who haven't seen it, the gist is a former minor league pitcher whose career fizzled finds his arm is stronger than it ever was.

His strength came back, in part, because he never stopped throwing. From his solitary boyhood to his life as a teacher and baseball coach, the man never stopped throwing. The movie shows him throwing balls in a field, into a fence. He throws during the day, during the night, in sunshine and in rain.

I sat on my couch, weepy eyed, watching this man achieve his dream, provide for his family and make them proud. The throwing is what I kept thinking about.

I feel like I have missed some opportunities to follow my dreams, make my family proud, and provide for them. When I'm honest with myself, I know I missed opportunities to be ahead of the curve because, while I thought great ideas, I didn't do anything. Those guys who have found success with dad blogs have worked hard to achieve it and kept doing it. You can't become a great pitcher by thinking about throwing. You have to actually throw the ball.

The odds are stacked against me. The reason “The Rookie” is a great story is that it's unusual. Guys my age don't usually get second chances, or don't recognize them when they occur.

But, like that rookie, I need to do more than just think about what I want to do. I need to do it, just in case I stumble upon that chance.

Originally published Aug. 15, 2011, in The Lima News