Sunday, December 31

My Losing Season by Pat Conroy

It's Friday night and I had a long week at work.
It's Friday night and I didn't go running today.
It's Friday night and I just finished reading Pat Conroy's book "My Losing Season."

I've never been so emotionally spent after reading a book. What the hell? There were times when I felt like just putting the damn thing down. I've never recoiled when reading a book before, sensing that I'd be beaten. Or remembering getting hit.

Or remembering something from college that still hurts. You get over things, right? You just forget, eh? You just learn and it doesn't matter. I remember that almost every weekend four six years (two in high school, four in college) I went to the newspaper to work in the sports department. And what is a normal college experience.

College. So for three weeks or so now, I've dived into Pat Conroy's college experience. Playing basketball at a military school. Crazy Pat Conroy. I remember how I dreamed of playing basketball in college. The first two years of high school, I lived 10 miles outside the Talladega city limits down a dirt road that was a tenth of a mile long. Three acres of land and a basketball goal in the backyard. Players took 200 shots a day. I took at least that many. And some times I'd slide along the baseline, doing defensive drills as well as I could by myself.

Shooting baskets and reading books. That was pretty much my life. My friends were basketball players and that's about all I really had in common with anybody. Never got invited to parties. I was so skinny and nerdy girls were never interested in me.

But one thing I knew. I was an athlete, a player. Suited up for the varsity team my sophomore year. Of course, my junior year we moved to Indiana. And that was pretty much the beginning of the end.

And now, and now - what am I now? I was coming to my apartment in the elevator the other day and this guy asked me if I was the one who went running all the time. Yep, I'm the runner.

I'm not quite sure what to make of Pat Conroy. I can identify with him of course. I've still got a lump in my throat after finishing his book. It makes me think about how I want to be. How I want to see myself. How I want to handle defeat. Because ultimately that's what life is all about. Defeat after humiliating defeat. You were never my friend. You were the butt of my jokes.

And then you get up and keep on going as best you can.

When they prove something wrong you believed in so long, you go crazy. Thanks Kris Kristofferson.

If you can meet with triumph and disaster and treat those two imposters just the same.... Thanks Rudyard.

Funny thing, I was talking with someone today about baseball. I explained how I don't really follow baseball or basketball or any sport I played when I was young. The only sport I really follow, besides running, is football. I dream about being a football player. Maybe that's a byproduct of having gone to Notre Dame. Maybe that's a byproduct of my dad being an all-state football player his junior year of high school.

I know what position I'd play if I could go back, meet myself when I was younger and point myself towards a football team. Corner back. The quickest and the baddest player on the team. Always guarding the opposition's fastest player. The quintessential skill position.

And I always hear one thing when tv announcers talk about corner backs. The great ones have to have a short memory. If you got burned on the last play, you can't dwell on that. You've got to get up, face your man and be ready to go again. And think that you're going to make the play.

That's my goal for 2007. To have a short memory and an abundance of confidence. My industry is going down the toilet, especially leadership in the industry. But my life is just getting better all the time.

2007 is going to be a magical year. Good things are going to happen. And I can't forget that I'm currently sitting at the bottom of a spiral staircase in a luxury three bedroom loft apartment. Maybe living in a small studio in New York City would be better, but life has to be lived one day at a time. That's all there is to it.

It's going to be a good year. No, it's going to be a great year.

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