Sometimes it's only dodgeball

Sometimes it's only dodgeball
Photo by Light Work Studio 2. Used with permission from a Creative Commons license

Sometimes the world feels like a perilous place to me. I’m the bug, not the windshield. And the cars are bearing down fast. Such is the state of anxiety that so often invades my thoughts.

I am wrestling lately with a tendency to think of myself as a victim, a sitting duck in the crosshairs of the universe. I suspect this is a hazard of experiencing trauma and adversity.

I remember what it felt like in third grade to be smacked by a big rubber ball in dodgeball. When I first played the game I felt myself bracing, folding in, preparing for the thwack of red rubber. Survival sometimes depends on preparing yourself for the impact.

After awhile I learned other strategies, though. Like getting out of the way of the ball.

I also remember one day in dodgeball when I realized being smacked with the ball didn’t really hurt that much. It was startling, but not harmful.

Granted, there was enough malevolence in the hearts of some of those third graders to give you pause. But none of them were that much stronger or more powerful than I was. There was only so much force an eight-year-old could put behind a big, rubber ball.

It was, after all, a game, and I eventually got my turn to throw the ball. I discovered in third grade that I had the capacity to be an athlete. I discovered the thrill of the competition.

I’m too much of a realist to pretend that the world is not a perilous place. It is. For all of us.

But it isn’t only a perilous place.

Sometimes the stakes aren’t so high, they’re not life and death, they’re just losing or winning a round of dodgeball. You get another turn. Recess comes along again. The players change. The ball comes at you, and you get smacked by it. Or, you dodge it.

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