Thankful Because “It” Was

The winter season is still upon us here in New Hampshire. Yesterday’s temperatures actually made it into the 50’s here, and even though I love winter, it was a really nice day. It was a reminder that spring is nearing, a reminder to me of the renewal of the seasons that I love so much. It also gave my brain a little nudge down the steep mountain of snow that is everywhere around here still, and as my mind gained speed and momentum, I thought more of spring, and in turn, baseball. Ultimately, some 24 hours later my mind and body connected at the keyboard, and the words you read now were funneled here despite my lack of typing skills. My thoughts, converted here to words, ran in sequence, something like this.

Every once in a while I get so ingrained in the here and now that I think the scenario, or the window of time I am in, will be there again in the future. As if to say that the unfolding of events that led to the opportunity at hand would be easy enough to recreate, manipulate, earn again, or in some way come back around because they did so this time.

There are a number of times I can recall in both cases, where things never did materialize again the way that I had hoped or thought they would, and other memories that did recur more or less how I would have thought or wanted them to. I think in these terms, particularly as it relates to sports, athletic achievement, as well as team sports and in individual competition.

Instead of kicking myself for the past and, or, the things I would have, or could have, done differently, while wondering if any of it would have mattered anyway, I change gears.

I move in the direction of thankfulness, appreciation, and the savoring of the moment, big and small. The moment, in this piece, also known as, “it”. I think back to a summer not too long ago, a summer I will never forget. I could choose to remember the summer of 2007 for what didn’t happen and the pain that accompanied moments during that summer, but I choose rather to luxuriate in the memory of what was accomplished and to remember the family and friends I was so fortunate to be surrounded by during that time.

As life would have it, time never slowing for any of us, we waltz in and out of people’s lives. Time marches on and forces much bigger than ourselves apply their weight to our day-to-day lives, and we react however it is that we react. Sometimes community participation brings folks together, or it could be by choices we make, or just plain old happenstance. Either way we all get there at the same time, in the same place, and take an experience with us that may never be forgotten regardless of where paths lead each of us from that particular time and place.

So, while I will never forget the Summer of 2007 as a whole, I have already begun the fading of details that comes with the lapsing of time. Furthermore, pain and joy both have their ways of shaping the view our mind’s eye sees and the ability to see clearly all the way back to the details that were so pertinent in a different time. Regardless, I am so thankful for the people who came together that summer and experienced with me, with my family, with our team, and with our community, the pure joy sometimes found in the spaces created while drafting behind the vehicle that is a post-season run by the boys of summer. I am not talking about the 2007 Boston Red Sox and their run to another World Series Title. I speak of the 2007 Goffstown Babe Ruth 13 Year Old All-Star team. This team was near and dear to me. This team meant a lot to many of us in this community.

In the end, the results on the field that summer did not lead us to the completion of our goals. But, wow! did we have a great time?!?! What a run! The sheer joy and enjoyment of our time on the field together was only outdone by the time we all spent together doing so many things off of the field. The people who wandered in through life’s revolving door that summer, the door that dumped us all out in to the same place at the same time, from where ever it was that we had been prior, were some of the nicest, warmest, thoughtful, engaging, and committed people you could ever meet. I am so thankful to have been a part of this group of folks. The run was truly magical but the experience it created for all of us was a time that I will forever be grateful for.

I wrote in an email that I drafted the day after our collective summer of baseball had ended, “…Next year when we’re the first team in GBR history to go to the Babe Ruth World Series…”. Well that didn’t happen, and not only that, it didn’t even come close to happening the way I envisioned it might have while writing from my laptop at Allard Park on August 9th, 2007. Here’s the thing though, I am so thankful for the experience. I am thankful for the people. I am thankful for the relationships that developed. I am thankful for the opportunity to be in the position I was in. I am thankful for the renewed perspective that experience instilled in me. I am thankful for that elongated moment, thankful for “it”.

Over the years, I have written or even spoken on the topic of being grateful for the here and now; being thankful for the moment, and understanding that it may never present itself again. Live the moment, soak it in, and know it is so very special even if it doesn’t turn out the way you wanted it to this time, or any time.

From a personal standpoint I have been fortunate enough to play and/or coach in pursuit of Division titles, District titles, State titles, Regional titles, World Series berths, and even National titles. Even though I (we) won at almost all of those levels, I (we) still lost more than my fair share. Then, even more important than that, I gained perspective as I got older and as I was in more of those situations. Perspective and experience taught me to thoroughly enjoy those moments as I was going through them. I learned to step away, at least intellectually, and try to see the bigger picture, or more effectively to comprehend the significance of that moment in time and how unique it was unto itself. Such moments are more likely not to happen more than once, and no matter how young, bold, skilled, or invincible I may have felt in any moment, the likelihood of its reproduction was not good.

For the boys of summer, these years, those years, whenever “it” happens, they should be the times of our lives. Summer nights, sunny days, longer daylight, warmer temperatures, the beauty of the game and the green, symmetrically perfect canvas on which to paint the mural of our youth. Even into my 40’s (years, not temperature) the youthful exuberance that started somewhere in my childhood which still dwells within, bubbles towards outward emotion in the execution of the outstanding defensive play, the perfectly executed slide, or the ‘weightlessness’ (some people call it a blackout moment) moment when the perfect execution of mechanics all come together in the exact perfect sequence to launch the batted ball as fast, and as hard, and with as much conviction as I could muster. When these things do happen, and they do, embrace them. Understand it for what it is. Maybe it’s a brush up against perfection. Or maybe it’s the timing of all we thought could be, coming together, and eclipsing even our own wildest dreams. Maybe it’s a period of time when the right people, with similar goals, and a like-minded approach to achieving those goals, all come together so that you, so that I, can forever have the experience and memory to carry with us. Deeper into the maybe’s; perhaps “it” existed not only for the experience of the present, but more so to be called on in the future. Either way, no matter why, be present. Be engaged. Recognize the moments. Fully savor them and let them wash over you. For if you ask me, it’s better to have engaged fully with all of the senses even for a second than to wish I had been paying closer attention, after the fact.

We never do know when these moments in time will start. We certainly don’t know how long they will last. We know even less about when they will end. Then, we don’t know if they’ll ever come our way again. Don’t miss your moments. They could be years, or even seconds, but all of us experience some moments that we wish would never end. Or we wish again for those moments to return to us. Accept them for what they are, moments that pass us by, or even moments that exist around us, and once in a while we are fortunate enough to pass through them. Again, I make the point that I am thankful because “it” was.

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