We have now entered year two of our tag along to our son George and his career in the NFL. Last year we went through the draft, his preparations for his first NFL camp, surviving the cut to 53, and then all of the ups and downs of his first season along with the struggle the team made as they tried to get on the winning track. George's career (fortunately!) is matched with the progression of first time and then new head coach of the 49er's, Kyle Shanahan, as he was hired and had his first year as head coach in the same year George was drafted.
So George was thrust into a new system, a new program, with all new coaches, staff, and really new everything, which was and is and has been AWESOME! It was all new for George but at the same time it was all new for everyone there (the 49er's actually had the highest percentage of new people on their 53 man roster of any team in the NFL for 2017). So while it was new for George it was new for everyone else so he fit right in.
So new things force us to grow and we certainly did as we watched (albeit mostly from afar) as George made this transition from college to the NFL. We went through the ups and downs and anxiety that is associated with all families as they watch and hope their son makes it through the final cut, then to find his way on to the field, and ultimately all the issues in trying to stay healthy and finish the year on the team, as it is a very fickle business and things can change in a heart beat.
We also went though getting him and his stuff out to California, getting moved in, renting a place, and then dealing with the off season, where to live, moving there, where to work out, and all the rest. Lot's of logistics and all of that. No complaints, just new things we had never been through before and pushed all of us to figure it out and do our best.
Now into year two we are in Minneapolis and will be attending the season opener against the Minnesota Vikings, who are expected to be very good and have one of the top defenses in the NFL. So now we are in the mix of it all and trying to maintain normal lives in our day-to-day activities as our son enters year 2 with very high expectations and hopes, for him personally and the team (and we try not to be just total NFL junkies and act like other things in our lives still matter!). During the offseason the team signed "The QB" of the future ("Jimmy G"), they have again tweaked the roster with additions, trades, and deletions, and now they are ready to face their first test of the season in their quest to have a winning season and make the playoffs for the first time in several years. So a lot on their plates and it is all very exciting.
For George and his life in the NFL, he leaves in May and while he has a short break for a few weeks in June-July, it is pretty much full steam ahead until January. And during this time we have some phone calls and get to see him for an hour or two here and there, but it is very minimal. Last night the team flew into Minneapolis and we actually had almost 2 hours with him without anyone else present, a true rarity now days. Honestly it was amazing to me to see how much he had changed in these months and also to see and realize what a different person and "professional" he was from just a year ago. Indeed, what a difference a year makes.
George now fully understands the offense (which as rumored is very detailed and complex - not for the faint of heart), he has continued to grow and evolve physically and has matured into quite the specimen. But just speaking with him you can hear in his voice the difference of preparing mentally and all the rest for a 16 game season with aspirations and hopes to make the playoffs. It is a business and you better have your body right and your head right or you will not be around very long. I am very proud of him for how hard he has worked, all the time he has put in, the very professional attitude he has brought to his work and preparations, and how much he absolutely loves it. He loves Cali, he loves the organization, his coaches, and particularly the players he spends so much time with. He is very fortunate to be in such a great situation. It is great to see the hard work pay off and see your kid be so happy and able to live out his dreams.
Then on top of all of that he decided to propose to his long time girlfriend Ms. Claire Till and so is now engaged. As all of you who have gone through this you know it is a momentous event in the life of your children as well as yourself. So this is another exciting step in his/their lives and we are thrilled to be able to share this with them as well.
So when I sit back and look at him up close, and see all the changes that have transpired within him over the past 2--3 years, I am just amazed at the level of growth and evolution that has transpired. And then I am reminded of that truth in all of our lives, that we are all constantly changing and evolving. We were always told in coaching that you are either getting better or getting worse, but never staying the same. I think this is true. Seeing George and all of his changes challenged me in my own life to review and ask how have I continued to evolve, learn, and grow? It is easy once you are done with school and get into a profession or life activities to level off and get stagnate. How do we push ourselves to keep learning, growing, and evolving?
I ask this not really in a broad general sense, but in a very personal and micro sense for me personally. What is my growing edge? How am I challenging myself to keep growing, to keep learning, to keep evolving, and emerging into my best and most complete self? And today is another reminder for me of the on going life process as my wife celebrates another birthday! So happy birthday to her (won't add her age but those of you who know us can figure it out!). So as the years add up and we experience the ongoing live transitions of aging, it is good to ask these questions.
The answer for all of us will be different but I encourage you to ask yourself these questions. To be careful of settling into something that is so routine it doesn't challenge you, doesn't allow or push you to grow. From what I have seen it is the people who are pushing themselves and then you see them all of a sudden after a number of years and they are a different person. They have matured, grown, changed, learned, and are truly different people. If we have not done the same it can feel as if people are passing us by and that we will or have been left behind. That is not a good feeling so is always a challenge.
So let us embrace these new challenges. Let's make those new connections and build those relationships with new people who are different and force us outside of our comfort zone. Learn new skills and try new things. Listen to voices you might not otherwise listen to and challenge yourself to understand a new and different perspective. Move the location of where you are standing so you might see new things in a new way. The growth and evolution can be difficult and even painful at times. But as we spread our wings and cover new ground we are stronger and also I think, end up finding that the world is a place where we share much more in common than those things that seem to separate us at times. And the growth and learning can bring us together in strong and powerful ways.
So I will watch the Vikings/49er's game tomorrow as a proud father. But also as someone who appreciates the growth I see in front of me, and as one who is constantly asking how am I growing and what is the lesson? And yes, happy birthday Jan!