“STRIKE!!!!” And the crowd screamed themselves hoarse and in wild abandon. People slapped the back of the bowler congratulating him and told him that he played really well. The congratulations just kept on coming. Finally, he was able to sit and take it all in. He had WON! He picked up his lucky ball, kissed it, gave it a little polish and kept it in the bag. And the strikes never stopped striking.
7 years later
“That was the 5th game that you had lost in a row!” his manager roared. “What the hell is happening to you? You have never played this bad in your entire life!” He just sat there dejected, with his head in his hands. His manager resigned on the spot and stormed out of the room in rage. He picked up his lucky ball and said, ‘You are not so lucky after all.’ And he threw the lucky ball into the mirror and shattered the glass into a million pieces.
Lucky? I don’t think there is such a thing as luck to winning a game. Bowling can be akin to life. One needs dedication, patience and perseverance. You cannot expect to strike and not end in the gutter without practicing. You need to put your heart into it. The bowler and the game have to be one. You can’t live your life without investing in it. There will be bad games. And you will have bad days. There will be strikes. And there will be rolling-in-the-gutter times. There will be spares. There will be accidental fouls (or on purpose). And you will have failures. And sometimes failure after failure after failure. The one thing is to never give up because your break will come. It may come in 5 years, or even 10. Some may come in 2 years. Some 20. There are NO SHORT CUTS to winning the game or in life. And the constant changing of lanes are never easy. It is a constant challenge. You just have to learn to adjust and adapt.
How would I know so much, you ask? I was that lucky ball. After he threw me into the mirror and left me lying in that dark corner, injured, he left. He had abandoned me. I knew it wasn’t the ‘lucky’ ball’s fault. I felt it in his fingers for years. It started with a slight twitch. And then the tremors. The struggle to keep his grip and the struggle to keep me steady as he bowled me onto the freshly oiled lane. The sudden jerking instead of the smooth delivering hook that he always had. Parkinson’s. It came upon him like a thief in the night. But he lived in denial.
The cleaner who came in to clean the place saw me, picked me up and told me that it wasn’t my fault. He told me stories of how he used to bowl when he was young, but he never had the courage to go pro. People told him he had that Midas touch. But fear won over. The fear of failure. The fear of rejection. The fear of not knowing what would come next if he stepped out of his comfort zone. And he regretted that decision for life. Now in his spare time, he coaches young kids who want to learn how to bowl but who could not afford to do so. And me? I guess I am just ‘lucky’ because I get to be part of the lives of the young, talented and eager-to-learn kids as they learn how to bowl. I get to feel them grow in their grip, in their hand position, in their delivering hook and in their confidence. And to me, that is as good as a ‘strike’!