Last post I looked at what possibly could have been missing that the Hawks found in a one week period to come back after getting throttled at PSU to defeat Michigan at home in an absolutely terrific game. I talked about hard work, continuing to believe in yourself and your team, and focusing on improving and doing the little things correctly that separate winning from losing. We did not see any big changes in schemes or approach, and no new players other than a couple due to injuries.
Then the Hawks, in their typically somewhat boring but (to me) very satisfying style, traveled to Illinois and ground out a very workmen like victory over a team they should have defeated and did. No sitting around after the Michigan game feeling all cozy and warm and forgetting they had two pretty important games left to play. Just kept working hard, stay focused, and get ready to play the next one. So again, what did they find? What made the difference?
I would say they finally found themselves. In the midst of the pain and embarrassment of what was the PSU game, they looked hard at who they were, measured what they were doing well and not so well, and somehow, someway, found a way to improve and to correct those things. And then they were able to keep it going, sustain the little bit of momentum they had gained in the Michigan game, caught some swag back, and played a second game at a high level. Getting better in November, creating a November to remember!
By doing this they have done what seemed impossible 3 weeks ago, they have set up a very important game (a game that matters!) for the final week of the season against Nebraska. Nebraska must win and hope Minnesota can defeat Wisconsin to get to the B1G Championship game. Iowa looks to win to improve in bowl standing, win 3 in a row and make it 2 in a row against those Huskers, and possibly still tie for the B1G West Division Championship. So a lot to play for all set up by their hard work, determination, and belief over the past few weeks, even when things did not look so good.
So as we enter this week of "Thanksgiving" I thought some more about what was missing and what was/is not. I thought beyond these Iowa Hawkeyes and to my own life on what might be "missing". Yes I have areas where my goals are not met. Yes I have areas I need to improve in and can. Yes, I have some disappointments about things that seem unfair, unjust, not right, and all of that. But then I quickly realized that the things I sometimes feel are "missing" in my life are pretty trivial. In the grand scheme of things I am amazingly blessed and fortunate. I have been dealt pretty good cards, no credit to me. Just the right guy standing in the right place at the right moment. Yes, I have worked hard to take advantage of those cards and make the most of what I have been given, but as one my favorite bands likes to say: "born on 3rd base but thinks he hit hit a triple." I have most of my life realized I was born on third and have tried not to take too much credit for that.
So I enter this week of Thanksgiving full of gratitude. So appreciative of all of these blessings, the opportunities I have had in life, the many very special moments I have had the privilege to enjoy and share with people I love and care about. And of course the people who have been willing to share their lives with mine, the relationships that make this journey so wonderful and such a gift. Appreciating the people and moments that bring us joy, that give life meaning and purpose, that make all the rest worth what we do each day.
So as we approach the celebration of Thanksgiving, I recall growing up and seeing all the pictures and media images that told/tell us what our holidays are supposed to look like. All the beautiful people, dressed well, with new cars and big homes, eating huge spreads, all "loving" one another and getting along so well. Trouble was, our thanksgiving celebrations did not always look that way. Our families were all over the country and could not always get together, we did not always get along with each other (and certainly did not agree with each other on all things), and while we certainly had all we need, we never looked to much like the folks on TV.
So then you start thinking that maybe you are missing something? That you were the only family among all your friends that did not fit the beautiful images created by the media and everyone else on what your family should look like and what your holidays should be like. So then it did not feel all that good. Sometimes I felt like we were a mess! But of course, that is all a myth provided to us courtesy of all those who seek to sell us the next product trying to convince us that if we only purchase this or that we too can be like the folks on TV and find happiness.
But we learn quickly that no new sweater, or car, or fancy phone is ultimately what brings us joy. It is the people in our lives and our attitude about our own lives. So here is a reminder that the question as to "what is missing" is also a trap. It is never all or nothing. Everyone is missing something and no one is missing everything. It is a life long process working through it. Accepting what we have, acknowledging what we do not, and offering gratitude for all that is, in this wonderful, crazy thing we call life.
Yes it is messy. Yes it is and can be painful. Yes it is full of disappointments and struggles. But it is also full of joy, of great people and great moments, and wonderful opportunities to find ourselves, express ourselves, and make the world a better place. Our task it seems is to just keep working on ourselves as best we can and to know and accept that it is not all or nothing. Heal from the injuries, don't hold a grudge, appreciate the moments and the people in our lives, and enjoy each day as best we can.
So here is to a wonderful and blessed holiday season. To a great gathering of your friends and family (or strangers), no matter who is there (or not), no matter what it looks like, and no matter how off center it may be or different it is. It's your life. They are your "tribe." It's OK and good. Enjoy it and do not spend a single moment of a single day wasting time on what is not. Enjoy what is. Happy Thanksgiving with hopes of gratitude and joy!!