Went out and played paintball today, and I had a really, really good time. I went incognito; just pulled out some old cammies and a Tippmann 98 Custom and played.
While there were a few times I wished I was using my Phantom (snap shooting with a 3-foot long gun while laying down isn't all I remember it to be), it really was a much simpler, more relaxed day. No batteries, no pods, just pure paintball zen. I suppose with all the expectationsI usually bring to the field, I burden myself. Today, if I made a bad move, I made a bad move. It wasn't particularly important. I wasn't pressuring myself to play well, or even to really practice or learn anything. Just playing paintball.
The second thing that made it such a good day was that there happened to be a very large birthday party in attendance. There were just short of two dozen kids present, probably around 10 years old. To my surprise, they were most unlike the kids that age I've seen play before. They were aggressive and moved, they worked well with each other, and some of them were dang good shots. Beyond that, they insisted on playing together as a team against the regulars. (I can't say they ever won a game, but they came close!). They were all smiles, all day, even when they'd catch three or four balls on the way out. That's the kind of attitude I love to see from new players. Playing hard, and smiling harder.
Now, I've got a soft spot for kids. And that's part of it. But these two things combined really restored a lot of my hope in the future of the sport. During the entire day, I never saw any cheating, any swearing, anyone getting heated at all really.
Let's just say that today made me proud to play paintball.