Summer with the Cole family means bowling. Last year I got off my butt and learned a little about the game. This summer at the bowling alley I had a new kind of insight that taught me something else.
I couldn’t understand why I was having so much trouble just getting the ball down the lane. I’m a reasonably strong man, 6 feet tall, so why is a 12-pound ball bothering me? Why couldn’t I use my strength to bowl consistently without choking and jerking into the gutter?
I watched my 16 year old son. I thought about the abandon with which he rolled the ball. Then it occurred to me that, if I did that, I might fall.
I had never thought about the question of falling before. I knew I was afraid of falling. But it never occurred to me that it was affecting my bowling.
I was afraid to fall. I was afraid to off-balance myself when I threw the ball. I was leaning back on my heels, at least sometimes, and it was killing all my momentum and strength.
When I figure out what I’m afraid of, I try to face it. When I went up next time, I decided I was going to give into the momentum and let it carry me over forward. If I fell, I fell.
Just by acknowledging my fear, two things changed. One, yes, the ball went faster and it didn’t hurt like it sometimes did. Two, I started to enjoy the game.
I couldn’t wait to get up and bowl again, because suddenly I felt like I was playing. It wasn’t work anymore. I was just getting up there and having fun.
And I didn’t fall. Of course I didn’t fall because who falls while bowling? And if I had, I heard myself thinking, well, I could just get up again.
I started thinking about how I’m afraid to fall in everything. I hold back, play it safe, try to shoot while leaning back. The only thing I never held back on was eating sugar, which I always did with complete abandon, and which proved to be a poor substitute for letting go in anything else.
The take-away, the important thing? I didn’t have to change anything to experience a shift. I just had to recognize that I was afraid.
Because then I had a choice to play it safe or not. Both choices are acceptable. There’s a time to play it safe and a time to let it go, and many shades in between.
Until I could make the choice consciously, I was in conflict and I choked. I wonder if it would be good to have this choice in every aspect of my life. What do you think?