Tom Hanks’s Special Message to Thirtysomethings

One of the greatest lines from Tom Hanks, in my opinion, is in A League of Their Own when he’s coaching a woman on his team who complains that baseball is “hard”.

“It’s the hard that makes it great,” he booms.

I shiver. I shudder. I feel the urge to grab my glove and hit the field.

It’s a great line made even greater by the fact that it’s not really about baseball at all, but everything in life, including life itself.

“Nothing worth anything comes easy,” they say. I’m revved up again.

But I’m not quite ready to grab my glove, so to speak.

See, in the case of baseball, I know what the challenge it and what glory looks like when I get there – cheering fans, a golden glove, a pennant, a world series ring, a bubblegum card.

But when it’s my life, I’m blindly aiming at a target most days.

New job? Different hairstyle? Swipe right? Go back to school? Ignore colleague’s wandering eyes? Vacation or staycation? Retirement savings?

Why can’t it be as simple as hit and throw well. Run as fast as you can. ? .

I don’t have the answer. Life is just hard sometimes. Hard to predict, hard to get through certain days (even certain hours). It’s hard to imagine it getting better and easy to imagine worse.

But “the hard is what makes it great”. Hmmm.

And let me be completely honest – I’ve been watching that movie for years; it’s one of my top favourites of all time. But it’s only recently that I’ve embraced this Hankonian perspective.

Since I turned 30, life has pretty much been a not-so-great box of chocolates. Surprise after disappointment after struggle after a brief bout of delight and repeat.

And now, in my mid-thirties, I finally get the joke – without the hard, there is no delight. And, most importantly I see that without the unknown, there is no hope.

I don’t know if I’m ever making the right choices and I worry about the outcome.

I don’t know if I’m giving the best advice to my friends.

I don’t know if I just paid too much for house insurance.

I don’t know if this time, this yoga will save me.

I don’t know any of it.

But I just hope. Close my eyes and click.

And just when you may be thinking that this is a depressing way to live – directionless and all that. Consider this:

We’re all floundering along, doing our best and still f-—king up and making a mess. Sometimes hating ourselves, sometimes forgiving.

Dropping kids off at the wrong school (hi, Jill) and standing in awkward silence at your first stand-up gig. Keeping it secret that your marriage is a sham, secretly liking one kid more than the other, and spending over twenty-one hours streaming Netflix instead of going to your cousin’s wedding.

Point is, screwing up and acting immature and being embarrassed about our foibles is all part of the game.

My friend Jillian drops off the kids she babysits every day. I don’t know how many days are in a school year, but it’s a lot. But she’s never told me a specific story about it until the day she left the wrong kid at the wrong playground.

And we laughed. OH, we laughed!

We laughed until we cried.

There may be no crying in baseball but there are plenty of tears in life – happy and sad. And I love them both. I’m a cryer so I have no choice but to embrace it if I stand a chance of loving myself fully.

So cheers to hope. Cheers to the struggle. It’s real, so they say.

Life is hard, so play hard. Screw up, and then laugh. Together.

Laughter and hope make it great.

__

I’m opening my doors again for personal coaching now for a limited time. If you’d like to see what coaching is like and if you’d like to work together, send me an email at ashewoodz@gmail.com so we can set up a time to talk.

For more on me and what working together is like, visit ashewoodward.com.

😉

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