One of my favorite books which I just got done rerereading is called Rules of the Red Rubber Ball by Kevin Carrol. With only 95 short but very sweet pages, pictures and even super fun cut-outs, it really vibes with my inner six-year old self.
I bought this book just over 5 years ago, right after I was fired from my very first big-girl job. Confused, angry, disappointed, hurt, worried and terrified AF, I had no idea what I was going to do. I was thrown a pretty wicked curve ball (pun intended) and was completely confuddled. One day while perusing the stacks at my local Barnes & Noble, I can across Rules and became transfixed. It was such a simple book with such a simple messsage, yet it totally and completely transformed the way I thought about my life.
Books, man. They’re pretty damn powerful.
The entirety of Rules is centered around a red rubber ball, much like one we all used to play kickball and dodgeball with on the playgrounds of our elementary school. More than that however, the red rubber ball that Carrol speaks to represents that one (or two or ten) unique dream(s) that lives inside of us all. That dream of traveling the world, of buying your first house, of landing that incredible job and of finding love.
The red rubber ball.
The author believes that we find this red rubber ball in a moment of complete innocence, as if we were really playing that game of kickball or dodgeball on the playground. It’s when we’re playing that we’re free to stumble, to run, to let loose, to let our hair get messy and our jeans grass-stained. We may scrape our knees, but we brush it off, a brief sacrifice for the fun we’re having and the memories we’re making. It’s when we’re playing that we fully allow our imaginations to run wild, where we give ourselves permission and the space to dream, where we aren’t limited or constrained.
Do you know what your red rubber ball is? What it is that makes you come alive? What gets you out of bed each morning? What do you go to bed dreaming about? Are you pursuing it? Going after it full-throttle?
Each day contains 86,400 seconds. That’s 86,400 opportunities to chase, kick, catch and run after your red rubber ball.
Right after I had lost my job, I was incredibly lost. All that I had worked so hard for was gone just like that. I had failed, not only myself, but my family and friends who I was convinced would be so disappointed in me. It took a lot of self-reflection, a lot of thinking, a lot of talking to those closest to me, and a hella ton of Ben & Jerry’s, but I finally realized what my red rubber ball was. And it just may have taken getting fired from my job to find out what that was, to give me that swift kick in the booty to start going after it.
If I was being honest with myself, I had been unhappy with my career for a while. And if there is one that thing I believe, it’s that life is way too short to be stuck doing something you don’t enjoy, something you aren’t passionate about, something that just doesn’t make your heart smile or give you all the feel goods.
I, like many people, have a rolodex of red rubber balls. Books, education, making others smile and laugh and feel good about themselves, my family and friends, and of course all things Milwaukee Brewers, Seinfeld and chocolate are all things that get me excited, get my heart pumping and soul smiling. But the one thing that I feel really helped me find what I was meant to be, what I was born to do was my love of inspiring others to go after their own red rubber balls. It wasn’t too shortly after I had read (and then reread) this book that I decided to go after my own red rubber ball, to go to grad school and become the kickass librarian that I knew I was supposed to be.
And you know what? Probably one of the best decisions I have and will ever make. Scary as hell! But just so damn incredible.
We all have 86,400 seconds each day. That’s 86,400 fresh opportunities to live out our life’s work and recommit to our passions. Each day is a new opportunity to chase after our red rubber ball. Bouncing it won’t get us anywhere, we must go after it with both hands! For it’s when we have the courage to go after our red rubber ball today, and everyday, that it will become our future.
Now, who’s up for some kickball?
QOTD: What is your red rubber ball? What’s holding you back from grabbing it?