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The Highest Peaks, the Lowest Valleys

WOW! What a difference 24 hours can make. We go from game 3 aware of stiff challenge but feeling confident the Hawks would get a win, to not just losing but getting handled pretty well. A couple of thoughts as we engage the process of fostering our short-term memory and moving on to game 4....

The Highest Peaks/The Lowest Valleys - So it is with anything that we are truly passionate about. When you fully invest your heart, mind, and soul into a project, effort, whatever, and it goes well and you are successful, the feeling is unbelievable. But of course the opposite is also true, that when you invest like that, give it your all, and are so committed to something that it becomes your life, and then you are not successful, it is so very painful and dejecting.

So first, I just want to state and acknowledge that football is "just" a game and in truth the wins or losses of the Iowa Hawkeyes (or any other sports team) in the grand scheme of things is really of little importance compared to so many other very important issues we face in our own lives and in the world today. Now that said, I must also admit that in my own life, the week-to-week success or failure of a particular football team has also provided me some of the best and most enjoyable moments of my life, AND, at the same time have been responsible for some of the most painful and disappointing moments.

Honestly it reminds me a lot of falling in love and being in a relationship with someone. It can be so great and wonderful when it is going well, and then it can also be so painful and awful when it is bad that you never want to try it again. And therein lies the rub. We all want to have those moments at the top end. Where you commit and work, and give it your all and are totally invested AND all of that pays off with a win (or however you define success in that area). Those moments are so gratifying and the feeling we have when we are in those moments draws us back, over and over, as we want to experience those highs again and again.

But we don't always get to experience those highs. So when we invest and work and sacrifice and it does not work out, and we experience disappointment, rejection, and failure, it is enough to make us simply stop exposing ourself to that kind of risk of pain. So when we get our heart broken at first the tendency is to swear off love, relationships and the like, in order to protect ourselves from that pain. But over time most of us heal and eventually feel the ache and desire to have love in our lives and all of the good that it can bring, so we walk back in.

Football is like that for me. It is a crazy, demanding, difficult world to immerse yourself in on a full-time basis, whether as a coach, player or support staff person. You have so much invested and the results of your investment are so public, you are on display before (what feels like) the entire world. And when it does not go well (as this past weekend for Iowa) and all the world gets to see your failure, it hurts. But even with the craziness, the exposure to pain, failure, and disappointment, some continue to go back, again and again. But why?

Yes you can get the highs, which are great. But there is something else, something stronger that pulls you back. In my life football has been a place to offer my gifts, talents, and skills (whatever those may be) up and be willing to be tested. To me football is so pure, the game itself never lies to you and usually exposes you in any way where you have not done enough or need to improve in. Life at times seems not so pure. Football as a game never lies to you. People do. Football as a game does not cheat you. Football actually will reveal clearly if and when you have ever cheated the game, it holds you accountable. If you do not prepare, if you do not put in the work, if you disrespect the game, it will expose you in oh so many ways.

So for some the desire to be tested, to be challenged, to see if one measures up, keeps calling them back. And despite the risk of pain and disappointment they come back. They need to be around the game that offers all the highs, the risks of the lows, and the ever present examination of of our efforts measured weekly against our opponents who face the same challenges and are looking for the same test.

So here is to facing the challenges in our lives. To having the courage and strength to get back up and keep moving forward no matter what happens to us. To not letting the failures and disappointments in life keep us from stepping back up to the plate and trying again and again (baseball metaphor here - home run hitters tend to have the highest strike out percentages, so while you may strike out some of the time, you can't hit a home run unless you have the courage and will to grab your bat and step back up to the plate!).

Our desire is fostered by the will and in order to keep it alive we must find ways to heal ourselves from the losses and disappointments we experience so we can keep getting up and keep going back. Of course there is the option of just becoming a spectator. Not risking the possibility of failure by pulling back, protecting ourselves, and not taking the chance. For some that is probably a viable response. But as they say, it is better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all. And I believe that it is the lows in our lives, the pain and disappointment, that make the peaks so enjoyable and wonderful.

You can’t feel the heat until you hold your hand over the flames

You have to cross the line just to remember where it lays

You won’t know your worth now, son, until you take a hit

And you find the beat until you lose yourself in it

Rise Against

Here is having the strength and courage to keep on loving and giving of ourselves through all the highs and lows of your life!

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