Energy was high as the clock ticked down the minutes before that important first play of the game: the Kick-Off. Even I felt the tension through the television set.
It's exciting in those moments before the kick-off. The records of the season are top of mind. All the great plays and accomplishments rank them at the pinnacle of their leagues. Sports fans wait for the match-up and anticipate a great game. There's so much Hope and Potential. The air is ripe with Possibility and Promise. Expectation.
Before the Kick-Off, anything is possible.
With the first snap and the kick, the ball sailed through the air. It was beautiful. And then, it was caught. And the next thing I knew, the ball had made it all the way back down the field and the officials declared a touch-down.
There was silence for a moment. And then one set of fans exploded into triumph. The other sat, shocked at what they had just witnessed.
I hung around for a little longer. These kind of games make me really tense. I feel for both sides. They've worked so hard for such a long time. They've put their heart and a lot of hard work into getting this far in a competitive, physical game. I want to see both do well. But that was not the case. For after that returned kick resulted in a touchdown, the game shifted and was a one-sided domination.
Bad luck? Better team? I honestly couldn't say. But that Kick-Off -- that one play in the initial minutes of the game -- changed everything and the tide turned quickly. The mood in the stadium did too.
Got me thinking about New Years Resolutions and Hopes. At the stroke of midnight, armed with a glass of Chateau Chantal Celebrate and my New Years Intentions, all is possible. But then, the morning dawns, stuff happens, and old habits and actions damper the hopes and dreams of accomplishment, improvement, happiness and growth ... or, perhaps, less growth and a few fewer pounds.
It doesn't matter the Resolution or Intention you set. It's easy to get off course ... to allow the other team's Kick Return to throw you. To allow that unexpected play and its implications undermine your confidence in your plans, or what you hope to do or accomplish. It's much safer to stick with the status quo and surrender your dreams or goals or hopes to change and improve your body, spirit or mind, relationships, career ... etc. Heck, ya can't fail if you don't put yourself out there. Isn't it just simpler to go with the flow and what you know? To keep out of the fray and accept that the die is cast and what is ... is.
But, no matter how the game ended and who went on into the next phase of the Superbowl playoffs, both teams put themselves out there. And no matter the score at the end of the game and the discouragement as the one sided game continued, the players didn't walk off the field and give up. They kept playing and doing all they could do until the final whistle.
I don't know if you make New Year's Resolutions. I set Intentions, myself. And I do what I can to keep the focus. I don't always meet the goal. I get off course and discouraged at times. I lose and fail. And there are moments in which I feel the failure more acutely.
But there's something that pushes me along after even a messy Kick Off. Every moment is a new opportunity. I can't fail unless I give up and stop trying. I may not win. I may not get what I want or achieve my fondest wish. I may lose things and people along the way. BUT I'm going to fight a good fight and finish the race. I'm going to keep the faith in myself, in my "intentions" and aspirations whatever they might be, and in the people racing beside me -- whether they've fallen behind, advanced beyond me or walked off the track and away from me. Think Paul suggested that ... And it gave him a sense of peace in the moments before his execution.
"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith."
2 Timothy 4:7
Or, if you prefer a simpler, more popular mantra, remember Dory's words of Wisdom in Disney's Finding Nemo and "Just keep Swimming."
We're a few weeks into the 2016 Kick-Off. You may have scored a goal or two. You may be facing a tough challenge and waiting for your break. You may be in a Time Out, seeking strength and perspective. But you can't win if you stay off the field. It's comes down to Endurance, I guess.
So, whatever your "game," don't allow a rough start or a few tears or a week where you just didn't get to the gym and instead consumed a box of Oreos or a difficult meeting or unexpected loss keep you off the field.
You don't know what you'll discover unless you pick yourself up, offer your best and let go of the rest. That's really all you have to offer ... the best of who you are in this moment and what you know and can do now.
Find the Joy in that ... Shake it off ... and Just Keep Swimming. Before the Kick-off gets all the hype. But it's how you play the game that defines you.
Happy New Year.