As veteran Crash Davis explains this injustice to the rookie, “You got a gift. When you were a baby, the Gods reached down and turned your right arm into a thunderbolt. You’ve got a Hall-of-Fame arm . . .”
For baseball fans, the movie is loaded with fun quotes and eccentricities about the majesty and “religion of baseball.” As a college baseball player at the time, my teammates and I had lots of fun reenacting the highlights of the movie, “You know what that makes you? Lollygaggers!”
However, as I have gotten older, it is a quote near the end of the movie by Davis that sticks with me.
Through his jagged career, of which he only spent “the 21 greatest days of his life” in the major leagues, Davis endured to set the minor league home run record.
After he sets the record, he immediately quits baseball and returns to his love interest—who throughout the movie shares her theories about life.” He says, “I got a lotta time to hear your theories and I wanta hear every damn one of 'em... but right now I'm tired and I don't wanta think about baseball and I don't wanta think about Quantum Physics... I don't wanta think about nothing . . . I just wanta be.”
It is the words, “I just wanta be,” that sticks with me. It is a moment of complete contentment—a moment of peace with one’s self. It encapsulates the accomplishments of the past and sets aside the quiet anticipation of the future. It is often the end of a journey. Any regrets have been reconciled and there is solace with how it all came to an end. It is a self-acknowledgment that the journey is over—and nothing else, for the time being, matters.
I think “I just wanta be,” moments are rare in one’s life. They need not be moments of grandeur; they can be the end of a personal journey or endeavor—or maybe even heartbreak.
For some, it may be graduating from school or college, the moment when your child gets married, or maybe, like Crash Davis, at the end of a career. It might be completing a project, winning a championship or even checking something off your bucket list. We get to decide individually.
I can identify perhaps a couple of “wanta be” moments. Winning the Lorain County Open racquetball tournament, after a year of concerted training, was one. I remember the calm satisfaction I felt after winning—and knowing it was because I worked so hard for it. I wanted to just go home and let that moment—that calm—last forever. Passing the First Year Law School Exam was probably another—even more so than graduating from law school itself.
At Baldwin-Wallace College, I missed a “wanta be” moment after I completed my senior thesis presentation to professors and students. A terrifying requirement for graduation, I had agreed to a game of racquetball a couple of hours after the presentation. It was a worthless endeavor . . . I was physically and emotionally absent. I just “wanted to be,” and should have been.
Regardless of the personal “wanta be” moments during our lives, I think the goal is to be in a “wanta be” moment at the end our lives. That is, to have that moment of peace and be able to rest satisfied with our lives—the wonderful moments celebrated, the difficult moments reconciled. To have done the things we wanted to do, whether it is the diligence of a bucket list or the freedom of spontaneity.
While none of us will probably live the perfect life nor we will leave the world as we would like it—we can strive to be fulfilled with our efforts and contributions.