Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Football Feelings

By Brenda Black

Oh, for the love of football. I've seen people weep over wins and losses. Heard of people losing thousands of dollars on risky bets. Folks will sit and scream at a 42-inch screen or suffer through blizzards to cheer their teams. What's the hold this sport wields over millions? Surely there's some sensible reason.

Columnist Andy Rooney once asked, “How could any normal, reasonably intelligent human being be sad or wildly happy over the outcome of a football game between two professional football teams?”
He concluded at the close of his 1986 syndicated article, “If I can be made happy by a victory by a team of strangers because they wear blue uniforms instead of red and represent New York instead of Washington, why should I bother to work for real success?

“I have a heart, the poet Robert Browning would have said, 'too soon made glad.'”

Is there nothing more lasting or personally pertinent from which we can enjoy such delight? Are there not more significant tragedies other than the loss of a game that should grieve us so deeply?
Sure there are! Still, the game itself is symbolic of such things in life and often helps us to stay emotionally alert so we are practiced up for feeling.

On the field it looks like uninhibited joy over simply crossing a little white chalk line. Such a feat will make a man dance like a fool. Ever celebrated the birth of a child? The victory dance looks similar for some daddies.

On the sidelines it looks like great sorrow when grown men bow their heads and drop tears as well as helmets as the clock ticks down to one more year without a title. Ever stood in an airport telling the love of your life goodbye and dreading the last call to board? Both the loss and the loneliness feel like a kick in the gut.

You see, football is about feeling. It's feeling hopeful when the season starts. Feeling confident in players you've never met, but trust more than your own Grandma Betsy. It's feeling shame and pride. The coaches, the team, the fans, the critics – they're all a community where football fanatics feel they fit.

“Upon further review,” it just makes sense to get excited, depressed, thrilled, defeated, grateful, broken, elated and deflated. As humans and football fans, we are made to feel. Besides, football is a good excuse for a man to cry and woman to rail and get away with it! Better in front of the big screen than on the freeway.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Start Somewhere

By Brenda Black

A new year begins. It must start somewhere. According to history, January 1, fits the bill. When Roman dictator Julius Caesar decided that the traditional Roman calendar needed reform, he enlisted the aid of Sosigenes, an Alexandrian astronomer. He advised Caesar to follow the solar year, like the Egyptians. The year was calculated to be 365 and 1/4 days, and Caesar added 67 days to 45 B.C., making 46 B.C. begin on January 1. There you have it – a start, a beginning that begins each year.

Like the flipping of the calendar page from 2015 to 2016, every journey, each ending and all plans have a genesis. The fact is that nothing happens unless it is initially put into motion. On January 1, the timing is right, the opportunity present annually at this traditional moment to set a course of action. It's time again to S-T-A-R-T.

S – Set a goal. The go-to resolutions typically involve weight or bad habits humans long to banish from their lives. The idea is simple: eliminate the accumulation of a lifetime of poor choices in 12 months or less. By week six, we're not sure why we even tried. This year, I challenge you to think deeper. Plan longer. Look higher and cast a vision different from all those ventured in the past. Dream big! Don't just toss up flippantly the hope that something will change. Set a goal to see something through. Go for it!

T – Take a chance. Do something unexpected, unrehearsed or unfamiliar in 2016 that will stretch you out of your comfort zone. Shake it up a bit and try something new that isn't all about you. Reach out and help someone in need. Forgive someone unworthy of your grace. Extend an offer that can never be repaid. Take a chance on someone who needs a second chance and you might just find you are the one being set free.

A – Answer a call. Now go bigger still. See your small gestures grow into a mission that changes not just one or two lives, but a community. With every act of mercy or aid, see the greater possibilities of how to expand your territory and answer many needs.

R – Raise the bar. Keep it up and set an example. Model being a good neighbor, provide an example of generosity and challenge yourself to always be kind. You are what the world needs most, more now than ever. Set the pace so that others will follow.

T – Take stock. When you look back over this year, count the cost as gain, not loss. See your efforts as investments into lives. With every goal you set, each risk you encounter, the call you answer and the role you play, you are sure to look at the world differently by 2017. And the one most altered will be the man or woman in the mirror that you see come next New Year's Day.

 Start somewhere. Start now. Make this year the beginning of something worthwhile.