Twenty-five years ago I learned that sometimes life doesn’t work out the way you think it will and that sometimes change can be a very good thing. I could tell you a million stories about where I thought I would be and what I thought would happen but that would be fiction and this post is about fact.
Technically I have known the two old guys standing next to me for about 30 years but the event that brought us together for this picture didn’t become a part of our lives until the Fall of 1987 when we rushed and pledged ZBT.
Yep, we are all members of the Gamma Beta Chapter of the mighty Zeta Beta Tau fraternity and today we gathered together for Turkey Bowl.
What It Is and What it Was
Turkey Bowl is the day the actives take on the alumni in a game of tackle football and it is one of my favorite events of the year.
When I was younger I loved it because of the game. As a pledge and younger brother we were told that pledges/younger brothers never won and then we did.
We beat those guys and we loved it. We ate it up like candy and strutted around.
And then when we graduated and moved over to the alumni side of the fence we took great pleasure in teaching the young bucks to stay quiet because we were always going to be dominant.
They who were 18, 19 and 20 thought of us 25, 26, and 27 year olds as being really old. They told us that we were out of shape and couldn’t play, but we proved them wrong.
Of course the cycle continued and those of us who kept playing through our twenties, thirties and into our forties still engaged in the trash talk because it was fun but we started to admit some things had changed.
Life Catches Up
Every year fewer old guys would haul out our cleats and mouth guards not because we didn’t want to play but because life catches up. The joy of the battle is tempered by the time required to recover from the pounding we gave and took.
This year I conceded that the toll Father Time is charging was a bit too high so I chose not to play. If you go back through the past twenty-five years you can find three years in which I didn’t play for part of the game.
It wasn’t easy but I have responsibilities that don’t care if I am sore, battered and bruised, especially if I am the source of that pain.
You see my children are on vacation this entire week and since I have a home office I get to work and keep an eye on them. I didn’t want to remove my ability to ride a bike, play catch or kick a ball with them.
But it wasn’t easy to stay on the sidelines. The siren song of the game always calls out to me, but I promised myself that next year the 44 year-old version of Josh will take the field.
A Different World
As I wandered the sidelines talking to guys I thought about how our world and worlds have changed on both personal and a global level.
Worlds is sort of a funny/interesting term to use because the world has changed and not just because so many of us have gotten married/divorced and become parents.
We who are called Generation X started our freshman year with President Reagan, watched the first Gulf War break out and said goodbye to some friends who shipped out to take care of business.
There are lots of big moments we could include here 9-11 and two more wars but we’ll save those.
Facebook Meets Face-To-Face
In the pre-Facebook days Turkey Bowl played a major role because we didn’t go onto Facebook and maintain a connection with a million different friends. If you didn’t write/call someone you probably didn’t know what was happening in their life.
Sometimes it wasn’t a big deal because you really weren’t close with them so it didn’t matter. But sometimes you were close but life had gotten in the way so you really looked forward to seeing them to reconnect.
Facebook has changed that somewhat. If you didn’t show up at Turkey Bowl you could still sort of keep an eye on things, but this year reminded me that is not the same.
There is no substitution for looking someone in the eye and listening to them tell you about what is happening in their world. That personal connection is important, significant and powerful.
Just for the heck of it here is a shot from 1990 that includes all three of us and our fraternity brother Gallo, who I might add isn’t standing on a chair. He is a big fella.
With a bit of luck you can come back here in 2037 and see these two pictures plus the one to come in which I can guarantee we will all look a bit older and wiser.