31 and forever young

Last year, I celebrated my 30th birthday with a list of 30 lessons I had learned in 30 years on the planet, which I got a lot of good feedback for.  For 31, I only have one thing to share.

One advantage of having an early March birthday is that if you are a baseball fan, the Spring Training games are starting right now.  I am something of a baseball fan, so I’ve been reading up about the Yankees in Florida.  But a piece of news from the San Francisco Giants camp made me smile this week, when pitcher Tim Lincecum met the Mariners’ Ken Griffey Jr.:

It happened in the visitor’s clubhouse at Peoria Stadium, as Lincecum discussed his one-inning start against the Mariners. Griffey budged into a group of reporters and extended his hand.

“Lincy, what’s up?” Griffey said. “Just wanted to say hi.”

Then, as soon as he appeared, Griffey was gone, skipping out of enemy territory. “Nice meeting you!” Lincecum called out to him. He looked dazed and awed.

“Wow, he just came over here,” Lincecum said. “What were we talking about?”

The most obvious part of the story is Lincecum’s reaction.  Tim Lincecum has won the last two Cy Young awards and is among the best pitchers in baseball, if not the very best.  He signed a $23 million contract this winter and, when he becomes a free agent in a few years, will sign much bigger contract (if he stays healthy).  And when he met one of the players he grew up idolizing, he became 10 again.  Lincecum unwittingly reminds us that we shouldn’t let the responsibilities that we take on as we grow older keep us from enjoying the things that make us feel like a kid again.

But there’s another side to this.

By making the short trip from one clubhouse to another – a miniscule effort – Griffey made Lincecum’s day.  And as he shook the pitcher’s hand, surely a part of Griffey flashed back to the mid-90’s as well, when he was a skinny young kid himself with a sweet lefty swing saving the Seattle Mariners franchise.

The point is that being young at heart isn’t something you have to wait for – opportunities are created, not made.  Just make sure to grab ’em when you see ’em.

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