And They Call It a Woody: Station Wagons and the Danger of Looking Back
When I was 10 years old we were stationed at
Yokota Air Force Base near Tokyo, Japan.
We had 2 family vehicles.
One was a 1968 sky blue VW Bug that would become my
first vehicle when I got my drivers license 6 years later.
The other was a nondescript black 4-door sedan.
My father had purchased it off some guy he knew.
It had no distinguishing features. It wasn’t cool or sexy.
It was simply…a car. I called it plain car.
Having served 4 years in Japan, it was time for us to return
to the United States. When you get reassigned in the Air Force,
they allow you to submit a form commonly known as a “dream sheet”.
On this form, you list all the bases, in priority order,
to which you would like to be assigned.
While in Japan, Dad had served 6 months on a remote, unaccompanied tour
in Thailand in support of the Viet Nam war, so the “unofficial policy” was that
he would get preferential consideration in picking his next assignment.
My parents really liked living in the south,
so when Dad filled out his dream sheet,
he chose bases south of the Mason Dixon line:
Warner Robbins AFB, Georgia,
Eglin AFB, Florida,
Shaw AFB, South Carolina,
and a few others.
The day the orders arrived, we all huddled in the kitchen for the news…..
What southern paradise would be our new home?
Dad made the announcement without fanfare of apology.
“Guys, we’re going to Klamath Falls, Oregon.”
Back in 1972, we didn’t have this particular acronym in our vocabulary,
but for all of us it was like…..WTF?
Once we realized, there was pretty much nothing we could do
to change our fate, my parents got to work preparing for the move.
One of the items on the agenda was to get rid of “plain car”
and arrange for a new vehicle once we arrived in the states.
Dad began researching a multitude of options, and eventually came across
a program through Pontiac where you could design your own car
from a catalog of features. They would build it especially for you at the factory
and deliver it to any dealership in the country.
Mom and Dad sifted through the catalog
and formatted the perfect family vehicle.
A seven-passenger station wagon with fake wood on the side.
It would easily transport all five of us and have plenty of room for things like
luggage and snacks when we made the cross-country journey to visit relatives.
It had an eight-track tape player, perfect for Dad’s Johhny Cash
and Tom T. Hall collection.
And it had a seat in rear that faced backwards.
Soon after we settled in to our new digs in Oregon, Dad took some leave
and we loaded up our shiny new ride and headed across the country to visit
our relatives in the mountains of Kentucky.
Dad drove, mom rode shotgun.
My little brother who was 2 years old was in the second row, driver’s side,
in a child safety seat.
A cooler of drinks and snacks separated him from my older brother
who garnered the other second row seat based some twisted self-proclaimed
right as the first born son
—that, and if I resisted he threatened to twist my arm
behind my back until I gave in.
So that left the final back seat for me to enjoy all to myself.
That rear-facing seat became my home away from home during several
of the long trips we took over the next few years.
At first it was kind of cool, waving at the cars behind us,
pumping my fist at the truckers on the highway
so they would blow their air horns.
But after a few days, I really began to hate it back there.
Hours would go by without any engaging conversation,
because I had my back to the entire family.
And I could never really tell where we were because all I could see was
the backs of the road signs.
And when we finally reached Kentucky it got real bad.
My grandparents lived in a tiny little place in the mountains
called Blackberry Creek.
The only way to get there was on this twisting winding road that circled
the mountain like a tilt-a-whirl.
The motion sickness from facing rearward while the car worked its way
up the mountain was almost unbearable.
In physical therapy we deal with patients with vertigo and vestibular dysfunction
on a daily basis. Motion sickness is a common symptom when visual stimuli
to your brain, and vestibular input from you inner ear don’t match one another.
It’s why you get sick when you read in a car.
Your inner ear senses the motion of the vehicle moving forward,
and your eyes are fixed on the book.
The mismatch causes nausea and dizziness.
About half way up the road to Blackberry Creek, I declared,
“This seat stinks! I can only see where we’ve been, not where we’re going,
and I feel like I’m gonna throw up.”
That backward facing station wagon seat, reminds me a lot of an issue
I frequently see in my pitchers at the ARMory.
In our program, mindset and mental toughness are examined and emphasized daily.
I often see pitchers who spend a lot of time and energy dwelling on past events,
to the point of nausea.
They give up a cheap hit, or a bomb, or an umpire blows a call,
and they just can’t let it go. It’s as if they’re riding in that rear facing station wagon seat.
The game is still going on ahead of them, but their eyes and attention are focused
on things that have already happened.
They create a mental mismatch between what their mind sees
and what is actually happening around them.
Their mental digestive system begins to churn and they upchuck the game.
I constantly remind our guys,
“Your previous pitch, batter, inning, or game is only valuable in that provides
information for executing the next. Beyond that it’s worthless.
Learn to say ‘So what!? Next pitch.’”
There is only one useful way to look back at past performances–
to generate positive vibes by remembering previous successes.
I will discuss that in a future e-mail.
Are you tired of letting past mistakes effect your future?
Do you want to train in an environment where mistakes are embraced
and act as guideposts for improvement.
If so, jump in your wood paneled Pontiac and drive directly to The ARMory.