Dropping the Fly Ball

Responding to a high-school student who wrote in, asking him to share a life-changing moment, Garrison Keillor writes, in his "Post to the Host" online letters column of April 2, 2012:
In the spring of 1953, I had to get eyeglasses, the old wire-rim kind, which didn't feel right on my face, and I dropped an easy pop fly in right field one afternoon, which felt like a catastrophe at the time.  I took a few steps back and settled under it and it came in chest high and caromed off the heels of my hands and the other team hooted and whooped and my teammates did not look at me. Even then it felt like a corner had been turned. I started spending recess in the schoolroom, reading books by the armload, encouraged by Miss Moehlenbrock who told me again and again that I was her brightest pupil. Instead of the respect of my peers, I sought the approval of teachers, a crucial turn in life. A sort of retreat, maybe a betrayal. Teachers and aunts and elders --- they were so grateful for my friendship. So much easier than competing with rivals ---- you turn your face up to an old man and ask a few questions and listen while he talks about the Depression and the Civilian Conservation Corps and Pearl Harbor and his years in the Navy and it changes your life. Could've become a mediocre athlete and instead I became a decent writer.