We all have moments of wonder as a youngster. We can be easily impressed. Did you ever notice the memories that stick with us, good and bad, are the ones that are connected with a deep emotion? That emotional memory peg is why we remember the moment. It becomes etched in you brain forever and can be triggered often as well.
What was the moment when you made your life changing-decisions? Were some of them your “enough is enough” moment? Maybe there was a moment when you saw someone just shine so much in greatness that you thought, “I want to be like that someday!”? I think we all have. Take a few moments to reflect on your youth. Who were your heroes? What were the moments that made them your hero? What were they doing? What did you see or hear? What did they accomplish? Was it the way they said something?
Because of my club foot and weak ankle, I later found out the expensive cost of equipment too, that hockey was a sport that was out of the question for me. Baseball and football were the sports I gravitated towards. My big brother, David, was running back on local high school football team. I really looked up to him. When I first started watching football games as a youngster, they were quite boring. Growing up in New England, I eventually become a big Patriots fan, but they didn’t win very much back then. Making the playoffs alone was a big deal. They often did not have a winning record, but I grew to love the game, even though I was kind of wimpy and not real talented.
I don’t know exactly when it was, but I do remember vividly watching an NFL Films video that honored Walter Payton. I remember being transfixed and almost being one with the TV screen. I was locked in. Walter Payton had broken a record and they created a tribute to him. They showed him in slow motion on the field, jumping over defenders, around defenders and bowling over those who tried to tackle him. As he seemed two steps ahead of everyone who opposed him, the James Bond, theme Nobody Does It Better by Carly Simon played over it. The lyrics, “Nobody does it half as good as you, baby you’re the best” went deep into me.
I felt like I was watching it in slow motion. I was truly in awe. They called Walter Payton, “Sweetness.” I thought, to be the very best at something would be amazing. What an incredible accomplishment. No one half as good as you? Wow. I knew somehow that was not me, but how cool would that be? Very. I will dream about it.
Back then, I was a dreamer. I was not a doer. I did not really believe amazing things for me would be possible, but in my own little fantasy world, people were in awe of me. In my daydreams, it was a beautiful place, I could enjoy the feeling of the accomplishment without actually doing the work. It’s cool to dream, but my flaw was thinking someone would just hand me the result. Honestly I can see it was a bit of entitlement.
Well, it was just a daydream. You can’t fault a kid for dreaming, right? Nope. You can’t, but a dream without the reality behind it can be dangerous. They showed Walter Payton’s accomplishment, but I don’t remember seeing the hard work part in the video. If they showed it, it did not register.
The feeling that young Darren had watching Sweetness be a step ahead of everyone else on the field stuck with me. It truly was an awe-filled experience. I think we need those moments when we are young. We need the dream to keep us moving when the boredom and bullying seem to be too much to bare.
There are two problems I see with that moment. First, seeing the end result and dismissing the work and talent it took. I think if I did know the work behind that moment, it may have taken off the glow of it. I think if I had seen the stories of the others who worked as hard or harder than Walter and didn’t become the best, that too would have crushed my dreams. The second problem I see now with that moment, was not actually believing I could be great. Not thinking I actually could be the best at something. Anything. I’m sad and glad thinking about it. I’m no psychologist, but did this factor into me being who I am today? I’m glad it went down the way it did. It was perfect in its imperfection.
How did you feel about yourself and the ability to accomplish that yourself?
What could you do to create them for others?
What do you take from this?
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