All my life I have wavered between living the life of Smalls and aspiring to the grandeur of Benny. Living the life of Smalls is about identifying with The Sandlot’s scrawny outsider with the funny hat, whose relationship with his peers is as out of sync as his communication with his parents. Smalls is the kid whose very limitations make him hopelessly fated to be the narrator, still reporting from the sidelines when all his childhood friends have matured and disappeared into their own lives. Aspiring for the glow of Benny is about believing I have it in me to be that incomparable speedster, the winner with the magic smile who is known for coming through in the toughest moments.
Benny and Smalls were on my mind on Friday, when my red haired Mexican friend joined me for a run after we finished our weekly exams. Two blocks from the nearby park her legs locked up and despite my insistence that I accompany her back to campus, my friend was equally adamant I continue going. So I did and the result was a Benny experience, an extended moment of complete release when every ounce of physical and emotional strength is exuberantly employed to the point that in that moment you know you are giving everything. Everything. Even if you cannot remember the last time you saw Benny run for his life from the Beast in the climactic finale of The Sandlot, you still should have a good idea of what I am describing. And not because you may have seen it in movies or elsewhere in the media. You should know because unless you have allowed your Benny moments to slip by one by one, you have surely experienced a few yourselves.