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Relax, breathe deep, and remember why worrying doesn't do any good [Commentary]

Kennedy Krieger Institute

Like anyone, I have a few facets of my being that I'm not so proud of, but, for the purposes of this column, I'm going to tell you about a couple that are very prominent in my mind.

First, I'm impatient. I mean, I'm impatient to the point that I've almost broken bones in my hands while beating up inanimate objects, like computers and stereos, when they didn't work quickly enough. Second, I spend an inordinate amount of time worrying about my Internet legacy, and whether the columns I wrote when I was pressed for time, or feeling really sentimental, will still be floating around the web in 15 years, when, hopefully, my novel has sold 10 trillion copies and I'm living on a fortified compound in the Caribbean (not very likely, but it's a dream, and that's going to be a running theme in this one).

My impatience is a hand-me-down from my father, who, while a lovely man on almost every other level, gets agitated when things don't work right the first time. As a kid, I saw him tear up instruction manuals while he was attempting to build household furniture, and that manner of dealing with hurdles carried through to my adult life, though, in a way of apologizing to my dad for bad mouthing him in this column, I'll admit I'm much, much worse. I proved that to myself on Wednesday evening, while I was driving to the Kennedy Krieger Institute, where I was supposed to be at 6 p.m. to interview some Harford County kids who play on a wheelchair softball team.

The institute is on Greenspring Avenue in Baltimore, and though I'm well familiar with that area, having used that road as a weekend bike route, because it has big hills and I like to think that I'm burning off all the garbage I ate at Wawa throughout the work week, I still got lost. I missed one turn because the street wasn't marked, miraculously found Greenspring again after screaming at myself for five minutes, missed the entrance to the institute because I was wound up, turned in to a residential area to back track, then got lost in a maze of one-way streets. Eventually, I found a way out, after I'd karate chopped my steering wheel and lost feeling in the right side of my hand for few minutes.

So, I get to the Kennedy Krieger Institute's back lot having yelled myself hoarse, sweaty because it's 95 degrees out, and not wanting to communicate with other human beings. That melted away pretty quickly when I saw the softball team. There were 20 of them wheeling around this blazing hot patch of concrete, laughing, bantering, lining up to get their turn at bat, basically just being kids pumped up on a sport.

Standing there watching them, I realized how silly my little freakout in the car really was. These kids live in a world that was not designed for them. Every day they deal with frustrations and problems that dwarf mine, and here they were, excited to play a pickup softball game in stifling heat with nobody watching them except for coaches and parents. If they can forget about their worries for an hour and have fun, what in the world is wrong with me?

Watching the wheelchair softball practice also drove home why we do these things, play sports, join book clubs, go sky diving, you name it. They're a haven, a place to forget the big, bad world that you have to deal with every other hour of the day. If all you ever do is scream and worry about making the wrong turn, you're going to be a miserable human being.

And, that brings me to the second thing I mentioned in my opener, which was having cheesy, overly sentimental columns available on the Internet until the sun burns out. Well, worrying about that is even dumber than karate chopping your steering wheel. Do your thing, people, and try not to worry so much.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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