We told our girls they could win their next game but only if they played liked they wanted it more than the other team. We told them that good things come from working hard and that energy was going to be the difference between the winners and losers here.
Some of them bought into what we said and some questioned it. No real surprise there when you are dealing with a group of fifth and sixth graders you are going to find a mix of belief in what you say.
I have told them I don’t care if they win or lose as long as they are having fun but let’s be honest, I don’t particularly enjoy losing. It doesn’t bother me as much as it bothers them but that is because I know I have done my best to teach them and I understand I can’t play for them.
Or maybe it is because decades of life experience reminds me that these games aren’t going to be the thing that makes or breaks us. They are moments in time we use to help teach our children how to work with others and how to deal with adversity.
Still when my daughter tells me she is sick of some of her teammates not trying hard or giving up I smile and tell her this is what happens in life. This is what it is like to be part of a team or group project and you have to adapt.
When A Hawk Comes To Visit
Somewhere during the second or third quarter a new player entered the game.
A blur of motion caught my eye and I turned in time to see the hawk dive bomb the ball and then pull up, pump its wings twice and glide into a tree.
Some say they saw a gopher and that it owes a debt of gratitude to the girls chasing a ball all over the field. I don’t know the right of it and I don’t really care if it was chasing the gopher or ball it was just cool to see that bird come flying through.
It is not the first time I have seen one up close or watched as it hunted but it never gets old. Every time I see one go after food it commits to the act, fully immersed and engaged it goes after its food with single minded purpose.
Time Is Deceptive
When you are a kid you don’t realize that time is a trickster that will charm and deceive you. You never imagine that it can move as quickly as it does when you get older because the time between turning five and ten takes so damn long and the time between realizing you are old enough to drive and getting your license is forever.
My son tells me he believes me when I say I used to be able to run forever and that I used to do 500 push ups a night. He looks at pictures of me when I had the six-pack that people want and asks me how I got it.
I tell him it took time and say if he wants it he has to go after it.
Sometimes he asks me what I would do if I were playing soccer and I say I would go be relentless in going after the ball. I tell him I would be ruthless in my pursuit and say that is how I played.
And then I wonder if I had tape of myself playing and could see the 14 year-old version would it match my memories?
I know some of the guys I play basketball with can confirm that when I commit to run down the ball I commit. There are still time when I jump over chairs or slam into people/walls because I want it.
The image in my head always shows a man who is as graceful as that hawk that came swooping down was but I know the reality is far different. That reality I remember from the seventies and eighties might be different too because that kid might not have played as hard as I think.
But I can say with certainty that when I hit my mid thirties I started trying to go harder because one day I looked at the old guys who were playing with me and realized it was going to be me.
I heard them complain and watched them hobble around and decided if I couldn’t stop time I could go harder now because I couldn’t guarantee I could go harder later.
More Than Just Imagination
I may not soar like that hawk now and probably never did but there are moments when I am playing where I feel like I have gotten the best of that trickster.
Moments where I am not some guy in his forties that people look at as being some middle aged dude. I am back at the height of my physical prowess where like so many other young and naive people I thought I would remain.
Don’t misunderstand this to mean that I am one of those people who can’t age gracefully because that is not me. I might not be Baryshnikov but I have my own rhythm and movement to go with the time. Most of the time I am perfectly happy with this time of life, but that doesn’t mean I don’t miss a metabolism that destroyed calories and a body that hadn’t offered mysterious aches and pains a free home.
I don’t care if I ever get my hair back but I imagine bringing the six pack back would probably send some of the pain freeloaders away so that is probably a worthy goal.
It doesn’t have to be a dream, it can be more than just imagination.