Next Year

The NFL schedule was released today, and I am already trying to scam some free tickets to the Bucs-Fins game here in Tampa on 10/16. But the impending new season, and the NFL Draft next weekend, has got me thinking about the process of beginning anew.

As with all sports seasons, life has periods of ending and culmination, only to be followed by new beginnings. The regular season begets the playoffs. The playoffs climax in a championship game, and that climactic moment is followed by the monotony of the off season. Of course, there are teams – like my Dolphins last year – that do not come close to smelling the playoffs, and actually look forward to the off season. Not every team is a winner. Not everyone makes the playoffs. And in all sports that conclude with a post-season tournament, every team except for the champion loses its last game.

I woke up this morning and noticed one of the stems in my bamboo plant turned yellow. Basically, it died. The irony is that the plant was a gift from a very dear friend, and all too ironically a part of that friendship ceased to be yesterday. It didn’t necessarily die, but it is definitely not the same as it was before.

I wonder how players on the losing end of a championship feel. The athletes not celebrating the victory. The players not dousing each other with champagne. You strive and work so hard for the ultimate prize, only to fall short. Short of redemption. Short of perfection. Short of absolute fulfillment. I wonder if they sit there and wonder if it was all worth it. I wonder if they sit there and dwell on the reality of the loss, a reality that can be such a shock to the system. I wonder if they allow themselves to smile through the pain, knowing they got farther than anyone expected, reliving the moments of glory that got them to that moment. I wonder.

A very good friend of mine told me to always keep my head up because there is always a next season. And I guess when the season ends, whether you win or lose, you have no choice but to start preparing for next season. The fact of the matter is that I feel privileged to have been given a chance to play in the first place. In many ways, simply taking part in the action and experiencing each day is as rewarding as winning it all. Sure there is disappointment, but it is overshadowed by the memories of experiences shared and moments created.

I will not look at my bamboo plant and feel sad because one stem has faded away. Rather, I will be happy because the other two stems are alive and vibrant and continue to provide the beauty that is symbolized by the gift. Every cloud has a silver lining. There are two sides to every coin. There is always next year. Life can be a cliché sometimes, but then again it can be completely fresh and new and rewarding.

We’ll see what happens……..

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