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AJPettersen

Learning From My New Friends

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I walked outside to grab the mail and a little girl came whizzing by on a bike. She stopped when she saw me. I knelt down and introduced myself, "I'm AJ," I shook her hand. "Hi, I'm Olivia," she responded. She told me she was 6 years old, later I met her twin 4 year old siblings, Alexis and Ray. They were all so full of life.

I saw them the next day, and the next. Pretty soon they were ringing the doorbell everyday to ask if I could come out and play. Now, each day at 4:30, we hang out. We walk and talk. I hear about school projects, about home experiments, about weekend plans. Sometimes the light can shine through when you least expect it.

Spring training is approaching fast. It's a month full of questions. Where will I be this season? Will I be around at all? The stress starts to mount as the chaos of 150 guys in one clubhouse is about to commence. I get sucked up in it all, worrying about what coach thinks what and what player ends up where. But everyday at 4:30 my friends are waiting for me and they don't care about those things.

They remind me of myself when I was younger. The days when I would just go play, without attaching a stigma to the playing or stressing about where the next game would occur. I would live for the day and play until it was time to go in, then I would wait for the next time. Culture has a way of skewing what playing is really all about.

I play a game for a living, it's the same game I played when I was 5, 15 and it's the same one I play now at 25. Somewhere along the way I started to stress about things that weren't connected with the playing. Things outside of my control. This is what makes me most thankful for my new friends-they play as I should. Why can't I be the same? They play to enjoy it and when it's over, they wait for the next chance. How simple.

So I will continue to play with my friends-go on walks, ride bikes and scooters, because I know that's what I need. They will keep me playing in the present and they will stop me from worrying about the future. I have a lot to learn from Olivia, Alexis and Ray-they are who I was, and who I ought to be.

Follow me on Twitter this Spring Training! @apettersen1
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