The Pinball Wizard… (there has to be a twist)

Ding-ding-ding! BUZZ!

Bonus points? Not really. The Olympic Countdown board in Trafalgar Square.

Lights flashing, buzzers going, and me flailing around with the flippers, trying to keep that little metal ball in play.  That seems like a pretty accurate picture of life lately.  I’ve been pinging around like an old-fashioned pinball, dinging wildly as I careen from Will’s visit and Paris, to the last days of school, my mother-in-law’s arrival, and Chloe’s high school graduation.  Bonus points for taking a train to the Roman city of Bath, then bouncing home to get Chloe organized and off on her trip to Ireland (graduation present). Bells and whistles go while we walk the canals in London’s Little Venice on a sunny day.  Then we dodge raindrops at Piccadilly Circus before careening off to tour the Tower of London.  We sail through the bonus chute with a walk on Hampstead Heath and a Sunday pub stop.

Buzzers and bells and… huge pipe organs!

Then the silver ball slips past the flippers as I try to figure out insurance and schedule various appointments to address my debilitating shoulder problem.  Launch a new ball, bounce around a bit with fun things, then watch it slide past the flippers while I get my bank card stolen at the atm across the street– the day before our trip out of the country.  Fling out another metal ball, ping a few times, then spend an afternoon trying to excavate the archeological dig that is our kitchen desk, catch up on the seven hundred thousand and forty-one e-mails in my inbox (mostly marketing), and try to figure out what happened to the missing deposit money I wired to Italy.  Meanwhile, I know I have to finish setting up an incredibly complex combination of flights and cars and lodgings for our time in the US this summer, as well as helping Chloe organize and pack for her move to Virginia in the fall.  Pressure is on– I can’t let those balls get by me.

The Who (the group who sang “Pinball Wizard” in the 70s?) knew the question at the heart of it all:

Shhh! Focus.

‘How do you think he does it?’
‘I don’t know!’
‘What makes him so good?’

They also knew the answer:

Ain’t got no distractions,
can’t hear no buzzers and bells,
can’t see the lights are flashing,
plays by sense of smell.

Am I right?  Just think how easily a person could handle all of life’s pings and bounces, changes in direction and rebounds– if only there were no distractions.  No shiny things and flashy lights, warning buzzers and winning bells.  Just get out there and do what you need to– anticipate, react, redirect.  Be in the zone.

But then… how much fun would that be???

So I’ll just keep leaning into the pinball machine, intently watching the balls, but also enjoying the buzzers and bells.  Sometimes I’ll probably drop a ball because I get distracted by the flashing lights and bonus points tallying.  I’m sure I will use all of my energy and every muscle in my body to try to influence things to go a certain way, even though I know that in pinball, drawing your left knee up to your ear doesn’t influence the action that much (unless it causes you to fall over and take the machine down with you).  But you just can’t help rooting and willing and trying to bring all you have to bear on the trajectory of whatever ball you’ve got up in the air.  You always, always try to beat your previous best.  And you wonder about that person on the board with the high score– is that for real?  Did they somehow cheat?

… soaking up ‘the now’ in Paris in May.

You know I’m talking about life, right?  About how, just for example, I’ve fallen behind, and even dropped the ball in planning for the next things because there were so many special things– with flashy lights and bells– going on in our lives in the now?  Or how, back in April when Chloe’s future was very much up in the air vis-a-vis college, I was twisting and leaning and pulling with every muscle and nerve for her future course to run a certain way.  All my willing and hoping really couldn’t make a difference, but that doesn’t mean I could stop myself from doing it.  And how now, having navigated a few things and perhaps nearing the end of this round, I’m already thinking about the next round, and how I’m going to completely own it– the planning, the timing, the execution!  As for those other high-scorers– bah!  I’m sure they somehow cheated their circumstances are sufficiently different from mine that our rounds can’t even be honestly compared.

“Look at the sky”

Okay, I may not be the Pinball Wizard.  But at least I’m playing with passion…


10 thoughts on “The Pinball Wizard… (there has to be a twist)

  1. What a great analogy! Sorry you feel like your bouncing from one thing to another, but I know the feeling. However, I was just cleaning out my inbox and came across an bit of correspondence from you from over a year ago…amazing how many things have worked out swimmingly since then. At that point you didn’t know where Will was going to school, had a long list of schools to investigate for Chloe (and didn’t know how you’d fit those visits in before the move), needed to get the house on the market, and that day had received an e-mail that they 3 kids had a slot at the American School. And, you were offering to be Kevin and Sam’s home base, not even knowing where you would actually be living in London. Wow…look how far you’ve come in just over a year! From my perspective you’ve had some pretty darn high scoring games since then! So rest assured, a year from now the things that are bouncing you around today will have settled into their rightful place in the history of the game of your life.

    The top picture took me off guard when I saw it…so familiar! It’s one of the pictures that made it into Kevin’s and Sam’s books – only the numbers and passersby are different. They took their pic at 323 days, 2 hrs 44 min and 34 secs.

    And are you planning a trip to Italy? If so, warning…but you probably already know…if you rent a car there, brush up on your Italian road signs. Cynthia (Kevin’s aunt) has started receiving traffic tickets from Pisa – $350 so far. I guess they have up to a year to track you down from their traffic videos. She’s hoping Rome, Florence, and San Gimignano are kinder to her. I think she decided “limited access” means “do not enter”.

    • Wow– good perspective, to hear what my concerns were a little over a year ago! And what a good friend you are, to always be ready to listen to my concerns!!

      So fun that we have the photos link between Kevin’s pics and things I post! The “66” days was sometime ago– I just pulled it out of my archives. But oddly enough, I was in Trafalgar Sq Friday and the opposite side of the sign, which counts down to the Para-Olympics, said 66 days. Had a confused moment before I realized the difference…

      Yikes on the traffic tickets! Good heads-up– thank you! Pisa is our first stop… then Florence, Siena, San G., etc. Staying near Florence, and not trying to do Venice this time, though I’m still wild to see it.

      Hope you all are doing well! Think of you so often. xoxo

      • Kevin, Sam, and crew stayed at a villa near Florence that was recommended by a friend of mine who is the Queen of European travel. Sounds like they went to the same cities you are visiting, but threw Rome into the mix as well. Sam and Kevin had stopped in Venice on their way to meet the girls in Florence.

        And seriously, Cynthia has now done her research and “Limited Access” does not mean “your big truck might not fit through the narrow streets” like it might mean in the US. It means, if you don’t have a permit to be there, stay out or the all seeing eye will record it and you will be fined – and you might be on your next vacation before the citations start arriving.

        Hope you have a blast!

  2. Your binball game exhausts me. But that is what makes the world so interesting… we each have our special talents. Your’s just happens to be keeping a bazillion little silver balls zipping around in the machine called the Heskett House. Just think of all the memories you will have available when you are sitting in your retirement rocker!

    • Oh mom, I’m really not very good at pinball, but luckily I’ve had lots of free tokens given to me to allow me to keep playing! Let’s do hope that I can hold on to some memories by the time my rocking chair comes around. I sometimes think I may not remember my own name by then! Love you-

    • You’re right, as usual, friend! Isn’t it great how our memories work (if they work, in my case)? So much of the hard stuff melts away, and you’re left with the smiles in the photographs and memories of good times! Miss you! Hope you saw Natalie’s warning (above) about driving in Italy! xo!

    • Yes! In my neighborhood, just after I wrote a loving tribute to it several weeks ago! It happened the day before the Paris trip, so I had to travel with the kids, without Clay, and without a working bank card (long story, even my American card wasn’t working then!). That’s kind of my personal nightmare of insecurity! We’re all sorted now.

      During my absence here, I drafted no less than 5 blogs– one of which mentioned the incident. But I was never able to finish them out to the ‘publish’ button, so that’s why I had to put a whole month into one post!

      Assuming this ‘friend of RBS’ is also the ‘friend of Hampstead Theatre’– details of Chariots of Fire soon. It was splendid!

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