Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Approach of Fear

I have been bowling since 1998 but there is one part of the sport of bowling I still haven't perfected. No, I am not referring to my lack of skill at picking up the spare when I leave the 10 pin (I truly HATE that pin) but rather I am talking about the art form that is getting up to bowl.

It would be so easy if one could just get up an bowl, but there are so many small social rules that must be followed. If a teammate gets a strike or spare then a high-five, or fist pump, is in order. When it is my turn I have to get up and approach the approach, but since I go first on the team I follow the last bowler of the other team. This means I have to stay clear if that person missed because if they missed they will be mad and if I get in the way then they could get mad.

Once the last bowler of the other team is avoided I can near the ball return. This can be awkward as if the other person is reaching for their ball too then I don't know how to react to this. Then, it is the trickiest part of the night. Once again I am not referring to anything like a split, but rather trying to get up to be the next person to bowl.

Each time I get up to bowl I think that I am trying to cross a busy intersection because timing is critical. There is a two lane courtesy which means that one can't bowl if someone is in the process of bowling two lanes either side. That's easily understandable, but what if two people want to bowl at the same time? I fear those times.

I have always had a fast pace when I bowl because I think other bowlers realize this and they always tell me to g ahead. When they do though I don't know if I should say thank you or just nod. Usually I show my thanks by bowling as fast as possible.

In all those examples I have given I am so worried that I am going to irritate someone else. There are so many minor ways to irritate a person in a bowling alley and I so just frightened to the core of doing so. There was a time last night that I thought I had walked up on a person and my mind became locked in place on worrying about the potential anger the other person could have. When this happens I usually forget how to bowl and my scores begin to drop.

This example of what a bowling alley is like is valuable to learn because it shows a couple things. One is that I may know the script and I may know the process of the order of bowling, but I still can get distracted and error in the timing, as anyone could. However, because I am so focused on it, it can happen more often. On top of that, because I usually can't judge the amount of anger in another person, I will become fixated on the potential ramifications from making a mistake that it will become the only thing I think about.

I just had a thought. A bowling alley is one of the more busy places in terms of sensory as there are numerous televisions showing whatever sporting event is going on, there are conversations, sometimes very loud conversations, and of course there's the non-stop crashing sounds of pins being knocked every which way. Of course all this wears on me throughout the night and that may add to the anxiety I have at the fear of making another person mad. So, my thought is this; I don't make eye contact with any other bowlers except the people on my team. This could lead to me always thinking a person is mad because I get zero information from them. How could I know if they are angry if I don't even look at them at all? So, next Monday it is time for a one day sunglasses experiment. Will I not be fearful of the angry bowler? Will I bowl better or worse? We'll find out next week!

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