#chestisms

FACEBOOK

Twitter

WHAT'S ON YOUR MIND?

Important Lessons for the New Year, Via Football

13 comments | January 8th, 2013

(By Mir)

I tend to think of myself as a fairly introspective person—heck, my navel-gazing is known to reach epic proportions—but the problem with always feeling many feelings and then examining those feelings in depth is that, well, it’s not actually LIFE. Life is the stuff that happens all around you and to you and the stuff you DO. The way you feel about it is important, sure, but it’s not life itself.

This epiphany is brought to you by potato chips and onion dip. More specifically, it’s something that occurred to me as I sat on my couch on New Year’s day, watching football, and stuffing my face with Appropriate Football Food. The end of 2012 had completely wiped me out. Dragging chips through the dip bowl and then lifting them to my mouth felt like all the activity I could handle. After a full year of tragedies and crises and challenges and deaths, we capped it all off with an emotional week-and-a-half of family members reuniting and trying to find our footing with each other all over again.

I was completely spent.

It was in my exhausted state that conventional wisdom suggests I should do any or all of the following: Find my passion, start over, set a goal, exercise more, eat less, be more disciplined, be more spontaneous, and generally morph into a better, stronger, more ideal version of my former self. January 1st is a lot of pressure. What if all I really wanted was a nap? And some chips? And for my home team to win?

Make no mistake; I do set goals for the new year. I enjoy the notion that it’s a clean slate, and I want a fresh start as much as anyone. I’ve even had years where January 1st was met with Serious Resolutions and I made Big Changes as a result. It’s not that the date is magic, but sometimes something external (like flipping the calendar over) can help to be a motivator. Fine.

This year, everything felt trite. Sure, I’d love to lose a few pounds. Yes, I need more exercise. Of course, I want to be kinder and more generous—don’t we all? My heart wasn’t in it, this notion of seeing the first of the year as a fresh new life start.

But as I sat there watching football, I realized that all the things that make sense to me were right there on the screen. Maybe they’re not huge epiphanies or things that will cause me to make drastic changes in my life, but they’re lessons that I think are worth noting.

1) The game’s the thing. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, but the way you play it matters. This is true beyond football.

2) When heading towards your goals, you might get hurt. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Risk is inherent in reward.

3) Protect yourself appropriately. Know that you might get hurt, anyway. Those guys wear helmets and pads to play, because they’d be fools not to. And they still get hurt sometimes. And they keep playing, anyway.

4) You get multiple chances to get it right. And even after you’re “out” of chances, eventually it’s your turn again. I think I tend to forget this. Can you imagine a football game if everyone played for that first down like it was the only chance they’d ever have? It’d be super exciting, at first, but eventually everyone on the field would have a nervous breakdown. You do your best. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it’s not enough. Your turn comes around again, either way.

5) Things change, and you only get to control some of them. More than anything else, this past year taught me an (unwelcome) ton about acceptance. Do you suppose the quarterback who went out when his team was ahead comes back on the field after the other team has scored, fuming about how the defensive players didn’t do their job and now his job is harder because there’s more pressure on him? I doubt it. He can’t control the other players, especially when he’s not even on the field. All he can do is play his best. What happened before he got there is over and done and has nothing to do with what he needs to do now.

Too simplistic? Slightly stained with onion dip? Maybe. But I say you can learn a lot from watching a bunch of guys tackle each other, if you’re really looking. And then you find yourself thinking about all the stuff you know you know, but you’re still struggling to KNOW know. You know?

Do you have any wisdom to share as we head into 2013? What’s the simplest thing you want to remember this year that sometimes eludes you?

(For More Mir In Your New Year Go Here.)

13 comments

  • Brenda

    Posted on January 8, 2013

    I decided that instead of making short-term goals, I wanted to think about the overall direction of my life and start aiming there. Yes, there are things I’d like to achieve in 2013, but I really want to start getting my life in the direction that I want it to be 10 years from now. Even deciding some of the things I want in my life that far from now helped me have a little focus.

    Report this comment

  • suburbancorrespondent

    Posted on January 8, 2013

    In my opinion, the restorative powers of a decent nap are vastly underrated.

    Report this comment

  • mar

    Posted on January 8, 2013

    I’m with suburbancorrespondent. Some days all I can think about is how tired I am – makes goal setting and achieving kinda hard. Some days a good nap (even as a carrot/reward) is almost as good as potato chips and dip!

    Report this comment

  • Sharon

    Posted on January 8, 2013

    My heart hasn’t been in it this new year either, though for different and much more benign reasons than you. I’ve been in a “why bother” mood. So in addition to making me hungry for potato chips, this post and your five points have reminded me that it’s important to bother. Thanks, Mir, and happy new year.

    Report this comment

  • RuthWells

    Posted on January 8, 2013

    Is is bad that I’m kind of enjoying the image of a field full of football players having nervous breakdowns?…..

    Report this comment

  • Lucinda

    Posted on January 8, 2013

    Keep your world small. That’s been my latest reflection. There are so many things I simply can’t control or change and worrying about what I should or shouldn’t be doing about those things makes me crazy. I want to make an impact, you know? When my world is small, my impact can be much bigger and the rest, well, it’s just background noise.

    Report this comment

  • Addy

    Posted on January 8, 2013

    Your analogies work for me as well. I have often compared life to a football game. And now I want onion dip.

    Report this comment

  • Tracy B

    Posted on January 8, 2013

    I hate football. It’s not that I haven’t ever watched it, It’s just that I can’t stand it….and after reading this….well, it’s in a whole new prospective for me. Thanks Mir! You are the best so can you please pass the onion dip?

    Report this comment

  • Arnebya

    Posted on January 8, 2013

    I have the power to do whatever it is I want doing. I forget that often and then become angry at others for not doing (or helping me do) what I’ve had the power to do all along (like Dorothy having the power to go home.) And I’m loving the football examples. The tendency to get hurt (YOU MIGHT GET KNOCKED OUT, YO!) is always there but in order to meet you goal(s) you have to at least try to get through those big, sweaty, grunting obstacles. What?

    Report this comment

  • Erin

    Posted on January 8, 2013

    After 2+ years of lots of work and stress (I finished a PhD while working full time, searched for and landed a new tenure-track job [which I love!], husband got a master’s degree, we moved to Texas, we got pregnant, then I had a miscarriage), with the promise of a better, more stable, future ahead, I realized that I was still operating in “survival mode.” My mantra for the next couple of months is: “You are no longer in survival mode.”

    I was using it as an excuse to (a) not do things I should be doing, and (b) do things I wanted to be doing instead. But life is as stable as it ever can be, and I need to stop relying upon the excuse!

    Report this comment

  • Dorothy

    Posted on January 8, 2013

    After 66 years I have learned that the sun will come out tomorrow, that there will be 24 hours in a day and the world will keep turning in spite of what I am going through, so I should simply wait. This, too, will past. What comes next may be worse or it may be better but all I can do is make the best of it. Happy New Year and hang on. Now pass the queso.

    Report this comment

  • Mary

    Posted on January 9, 2013

    Thanks — I like this and will incorporate, especially numbers 4 and 5. My latest mantra is: Begin as You Intend to Continue and Do it Now not Later. So, I do actually walk the dog most mornings instead of getting to it “later,” which never seems to come. I’ve found that this helps because each day is a new beginning so if I mess up one day, I am a little less likely to beat myself up or quit but just begin the new day as I intend to continue. Of course this is only 9 days into the plan, we’ll see.

    Report this comment

  • Headless Mom

    Posted on January 9, 2013

    Mir, this is one of my favorite posts of yours, ever.

    The simple thing that I’m focusing on this year is that family is HUGE. A family member is facing a health crisis this year and it has made me look at the things that I do and focus on and pull back from anything that isn’t positive and helpful toward family, local or extended. We’re not here forever and we need to make the best of the moments that we have together.

    Report this comment

Have a Comment? Share It. All opinions but NO judgments allowed.

MORE STORIES