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Wednesday
Mar302011

Potential

Last summer, I was at the gym, on the elliptical, watching a story on ESPN about the number one selection in the amateur baseball draft, who was holding out, not signing.

I imagined him sitting at home watching this story about himself.

I imagined what might keep a guy from signing such a contract.

I was reading some essays by Ander Monson around that time, and I came across a line: "Potential is mystery."

There's another quote related to potential that Jane and I used to throw around. I thought it came from Nicole Holofcener's film Kicking and Screaming, but I've been googling it, and haven't come up with anything. The way she and I remember it, there's a character who says something like, "If you have potential, then you always have something."

This line, however I'm remembering it, has always meant a lot to me.

I've been someone who "has a lot of potential" at different times throughout my life.

I was one of those gifted kids teachers didn't know what to do with.

Then, for a while, I thought I might play professional baseball.

Later, I gave up pretty much all forms of competition and stated writing. I received a lot of generous encouragement for my early efforts. The gist of it all: I had potential.

The truth is: I like having potential. I like the mystery of it. I like the various projects I'm working on in their various stages of completion. I like sometimes not having to put them out into the world. I like keeping them safe, full of mystery.

Still, I know: It doesn't last forever, this thing we call potential.

The reason for this little diatribe on this particular Wednesday morning: I wrote that story about that baseball player, and I submitted it to BULL: Men's Fiction. They liked it, and they worked with me to make it a little better, and now, now, that thing is live.

Huge thanks to Jarrett Haley and Tim Chilcote for their time and attention, their precision and care. Huge thanks, too, to my pal Justin Hamm and his wife Mel, who also gave this story some attention and helped push me toward making it better than it was.

My story is part of BULL's first theme issue, The Lonesome Issue. I read each and every story the other night in bed, pieces by Josh Peterson and Paul Weidknecht and Jacob White and Todd McKie and you should keep an eye out for them--or, go ahead and pay the three bucks for the zine. It's a pretty great little issue that I'm happy to be a part of.

*The photo is actually by me this time. That's my batting helmet from the season I spent playing right field for the Garden City Community College Broncbusters. That's my cherry Louisville Slugger. That's my poetry bookshelf.

Reader Comments (3)

I think the movie is "Little City."

March 31, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJC

Randomly stumbled across your story in Bull. Good stuff. That zine looks pretty tight. Think I might snag a few copies. Three bucks -- why not? Anyway, take it easy.

April 1, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMike Lynch

Jane: Yes, thank you. You're so smart.

Mike: Thanks for taking the time to stop by and say all that. I really appreciate it.

April 6, 2011 | Registered CommenterChad Simpson

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