taking the hit

What I need to hear will find me wherever I am.

I mean, like, even in Chick-fil-a.

Me and my cookies-n-cream milkshake were working through some issues when I tuned into the post-practice football conversation of the father and son sitting behind me.

They jabbered with typical ball banter, draft picks and such, and then the father casually slipped in this soft and caring critique—

“Hey, you know that thing you do when you’re about to get hit on the field? You kinda flinch and sometimes even twist away? Not a good idea, man, you’re more likely to get hurt that way.

Your equipment and posture will protect you if you prepare for the hit. You think ducking will keep you from getting hurt, I know, but turning away from it will only get you more hurt. If you face the hit and move into it, you’re much less likely to get knocked over.”

Well, hell. Isn’t that the livin’ truth?*

There was a time when I’d come up against a task I really didn’t want to do, or a person I really didn’t want to talk to, words I really didn’t want to (or know how to) say, a decision I really didn’t want to make, or feelings I really didn’t want to feel and I simply…wouldn’t.

And if all those things were part of a complete package, I wouldn’t do them all at once.

I wouldn’t answer the phone, do the assignment, take the test, go to the party, mail the letter, file the paperwork, reply to the email…heck, I might not even open the email. Or the envelope. Or the box. Whatever.

I’d avoid the Hit…

…and then I’d still get hit. It might take a few hours, or even a few years, but it would come.

And now?

Now, I’m suffocating under a stack of long-lost friends, unfortunate enemies and half-finished projects. Overdue apologies and equally overdue thanks. Unacknowledged hurt and underacknowledged love. Late fees, interest, and for the first time: tax penalties.

Each is a hit I avoided, and each has a face, a name, a due date, and a price. Each is small and weighs little, but their accumulation keeps me from living the life I want by burying me in a life I failed to avoid.

Now I understand, for sure, that anything good that could come from taking the Hit dies back, fades away, or fizzles out when we turn our back to it.

And anything bad that would’ve happened? Well, hell…it just gets worse.

Now I’ve experienced, for sure, that a hit gains momentum over distance.

Now I see, for sure, that hits don’t shrink over time. Quite the contrary.

Now I know, for sure, that the farther I run and the longer I wait the harder the Hit’s gonna be.

Indecision is not an effective defense.

And a hit isn’t an opponent, but the consequence of avoiding one most definitely is.

***

Football Dad was right: Avoiding the Hit hurts more.

And avoiding a lot of hits hurts a lot more.

Much better to face each as it comes and move right in on it, letting our posture and momentum prevent that undefendable punch to the gut, sock to the soul, or hold on the heart.

Much better to run the field and meet decisions halfway.

Much better to take it hard, maybe even in the face, than to duck, back down, or turn away.

Because we’re all grown up but apparently the playground rules still apply…

Two for flinching.

.

* And my designer friend, Scott, who used to play football confirmed it is indeed true.

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