Bowling: One of The Things That Make Me Happy

Things can’t make me happy. Events, Experiences, Thoughts can help me choose to feel happy. Just saying. Thought I had to qualify.

Good bowling is a strong contributor to my mood, though I don’t let bad bowling have that much of an effect. We can only go up with bowling. Tuesday I had three clean games. No opens. Of course, I’m still retraining my brain to rethink what qualifies as a “good” game and a “good” series. Even though it has been ages where I could take six hundreds as average and two hundreds as typical. I’m talking two decades that my brain and body divorced each other when it came to bowling.

I had started to burn out from bowling just about the same time I started graduate school. Bowling took a back seat in my life. For some years bowling was put in the trunk. I bowled to bowl, to stay in it, but I tried to not care. I bowled once a week in a very social and somewhat uncompetitive league. Just do it and don’t worry about my average.

I was getting close to not really caring about bowling when the bug bit. I was asked to bowl in one of my favorite Swiss Tournaments. Kellogg Bowl. Great combination of Social and Competitive Bowling, especially Sunday. Saturday is almost like a different tournament than Sunday. Anything can happen on Sunday. Sunday is when you find out whether you leave the lanes with your pockets inside out or whether I’m walking with a little skip in my steps so I can hear the change picked up jingle.

The invitation to last year’s Kellogg Bowl Swiss got me bowling more. I was subbing on a variety of leagues and practicing. I wanted to be able to contribute to the team and my game had gotten rather sloppy. It’s amazing how quickly muscle memory leaves the brain.

Unfortunately, at the very last minute, the day before the Saturday start, my dog Abby The Labby Number Nine tripped me going down the stairs. I probably wrote about it a few times last spring. Couldn’t do much else as I was stranded on the living room couch.

The bowling bug didn’t go dormant during my long stretch of time waiting for diagnosis and the long stretch of time before surgery; it popped its head up while I went through physical therapy, making me ask Ellen when I could bowl. The ortho doc gave me permission earlier than the therapist, and I ran with it. I built up to bowling almost every day, sometimes twice a day. Now I’m building the numbers of games a day, but that’s a slow process with current back problems. I’m getting there.

I could blame my lower average on the aging process, but that is a limitation I can choose to ignore. Yes, chances are as I travel this chronological road, my ability to bowl well will change, but I suppose it’s like teaching and using tools. As long as I know I’m not overstepping the boundaries with my arthritis and osteoporosis. Things hurt for a reason. New tools. New ways of doing things to make the adjustments. Bowling itself is one of those sports that mandates adjustments. It doesn’t take much to throw a game out of whack.

It doesn’t help that I’m trying to change something. There’s a guy in Eugene, Seven, who is a bowler I admire immensely. The other day he pulled me aside and told me how out of whack my arm was. You can’t hit your target, he told me, because your arm is all over the place. Sometimes it’s outside of my body as if I were flapping like a chicken. Over compensating for the ball not doing what I want it to do. You can’t make a bowling ball do anything. It just won’t work.

I’m focused on changing the muscle memory and only accept an arm swing that’s close to my body. Straighter arm for more leverage and better target accuracy. Struggled Sunday, Monday Morning, Monday night. Tuesday was one of those nights that my arm felt smooth. I couldn’t carry corners, but I wasn’t missing those corners. Three clean games. I was over my average all three games. I ought to be ecstatic. I’ll accept that I was jazzed and pumped up.

I talked about it Wednesday afternoon and my bowling scores tanked. Thursday was a rare day off. Work and no one to substitute for. This morning I wanted to take the rainbow day of Tuesday and come to a compromise with the horse pucky day.

According to this great bowling program, Leaguesecretary.com, I was told that if I wanted to raise my 166 average a pin, I had to shoot a 532 or a 523. (I can’t remember.) I thought that it was a cake walk. Thought this way during warmups.

Not too many innings went by when I was singing a different song. Splits. Missed Spares. All over the map and missed my average by fourteen pins. I changed balls, reminded myself to keep my arm straight and get more knee bend. The follow through would take care of itself.

The second game I was in the groove. A clean 205. I’m very happy at that point. Even won the poker hand with five sevens. I don’t win at that very often. I don’t know if there’s a tool I can pick up for this.

But just when I thought I knew what I was doing, I didn’t. My score tanked again, twenty something under my average.

Yet, even with the yo-yo bowling, I managed to hit that magic series number that raised my average to a 167. Some levels of accomplishment feel more monumental than others.

Now there’s tonight’s league. Last of the season. I have picked up three pins in my average. League secretary tells me that a 507 will raise my average, though that doesn’t right; it’s lower than this mornings expectations, but maybe it’s because I don’t have as many games in the league.

Who knows what will happen if I dig in and focus on my arm and knees and let everything else take care of itself?

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