by Brad Listi
You may have read this story, the one about 62-year-old Don Doane of Ravenna, Michigan. For more than forty-five years Mr. Doane was a member of the same bowling team. Mr. Doane and his teammates competed in a local league at the local lanes over at Ravenna Bowl.
On October 16th, for the first time in his entire life, Don Doane bowled a perfect game. Strike after strike after strike after strike. He couldn’t miss. He was in The Zone. A perfect score of 300. Total glory.
And after the final pin had fallen, Don Doane raised his hands in the air in miraculous triumph. He pumped a fist. There was a huge cheer. His teammates swarmed around him in a frenzy of joyous excitement.
And then Don Doane collapsed suddenly and fell to the floor and died of a massive heart attack.
Efforts to resuscitate him failed.
This story makes me think. More specifically: It makes me think about how I sometimes think about my life. How I often sit around wondering: How is this story gonna go? What’s going to become of me? How will I fare going forward? What’s the point? Is there a point? What will happen? What will I make happen? Will things go my way? Will things not go my way? How important is luck? What should I do? What should I not do? Is everything passing me by? Am I missing opportunities? Will things take a tragic turn? Will I run the table? Will it all end well? Will it all end badly?
That is, if one is anything like me.
Life, inevitably, is an exercise in loss. You live long enough, and you lose everything. Every relationship ends. Everything you have goes away. You disintegrate. All of your physical gifts wither and dissipate. It’s all about loss, in the end. Acceptance of loss. The ability to handle loss with grace. The ability to lose.
One of the anonymous majority. A regular man from Michigan. (I’m assuming he was regular.)
Don the Bowler.
Don is dead now. And in his death, he made quiet national news.
A perfect game.
He bowled a perfect game—his first and only perfect game—and then, suddenly, he died. Surrounded by his friends.
Everyone was wearing bowling shoes. One imagines they were all drinking beer.
It’s one of the more triumphant deaths I’ve read about in recent memory.