When I worked at a daytime TV talk show almost a decade ago, I kept two aluminum bats in the back seat of my old Toyota. They were an accident of a Saturday morning garage sale. They donked against each other when I drove, but every once in a while, after a long day of debates on, say, the merits of onstage musical chairs as a means of connecting our audience to touring Broadway musicals, I’d haul those hammers to Stella’s Batting Cages in Lyons and swing at baseballs for 30 minutes without pause.
Hitting a baseball is a hard pleasure, undertaken alone, beneath a helmet, in a cage. I wanted the isolation of it. I wanted to hit something, yes. But I wanted the hypnosis that comes with mind-free repetition.
A good baseball swing is a viscous motion. And when you connect crisply, repeatedly, that sharp clank is a musical report. People turn their heads.
The longer I stayed in there, the more the day receded from memory. In the failing sunlight, I’d swing until my back hurt. I’d swing until my hands blistered. I’d swing until I forgot.