There was a morning, cold as ever in the month of November. I was only about nine years-old at the time and the hour was early. I remember this was a morning at football practice. I remember the frost on the ground and the cold mist was rising up from the icy grass.
I remember the smoke from my breath as it left my mouth.
I remember the jumping jacks and our young little grunts as we counted out the number of jumping jacks and push-ups.
The team was holding a scrimmage because the coach wanted to see us at different positions. This way, the coach would know where to place us when the season started.
I was not very fast nor was I very big but either way, I came from a football family. As one might assume, I was suited up and dressed to play football.
I was good enough for my age and able to catch a ball. I couldn’t run fast enough to save my life but, for the time, I was enough to hold my own at a defensive position.
However, on this particular day, my position was halfback which means offense and I would have the chance to run the ball.
The play was called a 22 dive which means I would take a hand-off and run the ball through the line and try to gain some yardage.
My attempts were mostly unsuccessful. I never carried the ball very far. I was usually tackled pretty quickly and shot down before I could run through the line. However, there was one play where I was handed the ball and, once more, my route was to run through the line without being tackled. I fulfilled my commitment to the route to see if I could gain some yards or run the ball down the field.
I took the ball and broke through the line, jumped up and over a fallen tackler and, as a result, I was able to gain some yards.
This was a good run.
I didn’t think much about this play. I didn’t think much about anything else except for the fact that it felt good to finally break through the line and gain some yards.
I didn’t celebrate this at all. At least not until the end of practice.
This is when The Old Man was talking about the scrimmage.
This is when he told me, “You did have a nice run when you broke through that line.”
This was more than 41 years ago.
And I never forgot this. . .
There is a great deception that goes back longer than any of us or even longer than any of our elders.
The deception is something that goes back to the idea of being or thinking like a kid.
There is a great deception that somehow breaks the cycle of our dreams and somehow, with this so-called forced coercion known as reality, there comes a time in our life when we are told to “stop thinking like a kid.”
And I get it . . .
Life sure changes as we grow. Our ideas change. Our life changes.
More importantly, the direction of our intentions change from the pre-school ideas to a more updated system of thinking.
And I get this too.
I get the fact that things changed and that my ideas as a boy were somehow out of touch.
But for the record, I recall the fascination that somehow a new pair of sneakers would make me run faster and jump higher. Perhaps it was reality that let me down. Or maybe it was someone older who told me to stop being a stupid little kid.
Maybe it was the kids at the playground who were better than me at sports and, as a result, I thought my sneakers were defective.
Or again, maybe it was one of the older kids who told me to shut-up or to “Stop thinking like a stupid little kid.”
Yep, I suppose that was it.
However, this is where the deception comes in.
At some point, we lose our vision of wonder and become something other than wondrous.
At some point, we lose sight of this thing we call a dream or we forget a feeling like the one I had when I broke through the line after taking the hand-off.
But more, we grow more distant from that feeling and from the accolades which came from a proud Father.
“You did have a nice run when you broke through that line.”
We move away from that inner-most spark which causes us to believe and have hope.
The greatest theft of all is the theft of our youth and the passion behind our spirit. To be clear, I was never a great athlete.
I was never fast or big enough and since the other kids grew quicker and taller; and since I was what you’d call a late-bloomer, sports and me were never on the same parallel.
However, this does not mean that I never wanted to be good or great at something.
No, I want this and more.
I want to be the absolute best at something.
There is a thought running in my mind right now. It’s a memory, I suppose. Or maybe this is an emotion or my body’s chemistry as it responds to old thoughts of nostalgia and the only thing I’ve always wanted was to be absolutely great at something.
I have dreams no different from the dreams of my childhood where at some point, I am absolutely the best.
I have had fantasies of this – of me, being not just good and not just great – but that finally, I found a way to break through the line and gain some momentum in life.
I want that feeling where I break the tackles enough to run down the field and have the pride, the accolades and the acceptance from not just The Old Man but from myself as well.
I have dreams of writing the next best American novel.
I have ideas of being the best speaker of our generation.
I have ideas of creating a clinical facility for people who need help of any kind; or for those who find it hard to live amongst the masses, or for those whose depression is so great and their anxiety is so crippling that an “outside” world makes little sense to them. I want to be the best at helping with this.
I have dreams of creating breakthroughs for the mind, the heart, as well as the soul; and more, I have dreams of building something that makes it okay to be, think, build and pretend just as we are, and just like a kid.
I call this my trick, which I am working to pull off.
But first, I am looking to find a way to perfect my craft. I want to find out what I am the best at and I know there is only one thing I can do absolutely perfectly.
I just have to be. (Understand?)
That’s the only thing that I can pull off without any flaws.
But. . . just like that day at football practice, it’s a hard run through a line of tacklers.
My guess is I just have to keep running. I have to keep up with my practices.
I have to take the ball and come what may, I have to dive through the tacklers and give it all that I can.
I say this because such is life.
There is a deception which we all have decided to condone and go along with. There is an idea which is both outdated and antiquated. At this time, we are living on the verge of a new creation. We are living in a time where a person can dream and dare and do anything they choose.
In fairness and certainly in a business sense, this doesn’t mean someone will pay for my talents. This doesn’t mean that everyone is going to cheer for me and sadly (or unfortunately) my Old Man will not return from the grave just to tell me how I had a great run.
But nonetheless, no one can stop me (or you).
No one has the right to stop anyone from reaching their dreams or searching for their own perfection.
Above all things, this is an inalienable right – to be, to think, to believe and to become.
At some point, I was told to wise-up.
I was told to stop acting like a kid and that I had to get ready for the adult world.
More accurately, I was told to “get honest” and get ready for corporate America.
As a man of 50 years in this world and as a person who has worked more than half of his life at one job or another, I would like to both respond to and reject this motto.
I reject this idea because corporate America is a lot of things – but honest is not one of them. As for acting like a kid, I have seen more maturity on playgrounds and in children’s games than I’ve seen in billion dollar boardrooms.
So, let me go at it.
Let me take the hand-offs.
Let me take the hits and be knocked down because this is where I learned to get back up again.
Let me look to make the play and break the line.
Let me buy a new pair of sneakers and believe in the fact that I can run faster and jump higher.
Let me “have at it” and give it a shot because why else are we living if not to find the satisfaction of living our life to its fullest.
It wasn’t long ago
Someone told me that I have to stop thinking like a kid . . .
I told them, “No thanks, I’d rather be happy.”
Know what I mean?