This is another “recycle” piece from my early days in one of my writer’s groups. The prompt given on which to write was “satisfaction”. I think I need to re-read it a few times myself, as I had been in a pessimistic state to say the least for the last two years, and I’ve been fighting to turn the page, to revisit the thoughts I had when writing this piece.
I often reflect on life in sports analogies. At work, for example, there are the (metaphoric and literal) Captains and other locker room leaders, the role-players, the bench guys who come in in relief. You can’t always win every game, but you do your best.
Sometimes in life you feel like you’ve had your three strikes and you’re out. And sometimes you come up a yard short (remember the Titans?). Sometimes on paper things don’t seem in your favor, but you stick to your game plan, you steel yourself, and you pull off the Cinderella Story surprise victory.
A lot of the time, you remember to be humble, and that you owe it all to the people who’ve trained you, who’ve been on your teams in the past, the folks who believed in you, and supported you even when times were tough.
To apply the analogy again to my workplace, I’ve been in situations when I realized that I had one of the higher salaries on my team, and I felt the pressure of those dollars, because if I’m earning such a high salary and I don’t perform, well, the fans aren’t going to be happy, are they? And let’s not talk about how the Team Manager will feel.
In life, as in team sports, there are those that lead a team by example, those that are the rah-rah guys. There are those who might seem to be lesser players, but you won’t win without them. There are those whose single-minded intensity makes them dominant over all the rest.
So, what does this have to do with satisfaction?
You see, I remember a scene in Kevin Costner’s “For Love of the Game” when a player is leaving the team to sign with the free-spending Yankees (a team I hate in real life, by the way, but I digress). Costner’s character expresses disappointment and feels betrayed, because they had been teammates for so long. What about the team? The departing player points to his wife and child in the corner of the locker room, saying, “You see them? That’s my team.” I not only got that, but felt the same way.
I’ve brought up work in this piece twice now, but I had rubbed the people I’ve worked with the wrong way because I wasn’t interested in friends. If I got along with you, great. But I was there to do my job, and keep my (home) team afloat. I wasn’t there to be social. It was all about the team at home. The team at work was strictly minor league to me. In sports, the athletes work hard, train, learn from the mistakes of the past, and sacrifice for the good of the team. I know I did these things for my REAL team, for my wife and stepson. My passion for that game should not be questioned, and I gave what I had to give.
Ah, but here’s the Shakespearean rub: teams disband, players sign elsewhere or retire, some players are simply cut from the team. Sometimes there’s a Team of Destiny, and sometimes you’re not on it.
I’ve touched on the end of my marriage and what happened to my stepson in earlier posts. Using the sports analogy, suffice it to say, that I have lost my players to other teams. Some (including myself) might say that I was cut. When this happens, the team must rebuild to make another run at it. I’m rebuilding.
So….satisfaction? Some players aren’t satisfied until they get a championship. Look at Elway, Bourque, Bettis, and others who got to go out on top after decades of failure. In a way, isn’t that what we all want? To achieve all we’ve strived for since we were kids? Knowing we never gave up, and persisitance payed off? What about Nomar Garciaparra, a fan fave in Boston, traded away at the deadline to watch the Red Sox win their first championship in 86 years? That’s brutal. Sometimes I feel like I’m that guy.
Will I ever be satisfied? None of us ever knows. There were times I’d believed I had my one chance at a ring (metaphor, anyone?), and that was all the chance I’d get. But the aforementioned retired players eventually got their satisfaction, and poor Nomar, at least, went down still trying.
Will I get to my final day, satisfied that I achieved what I sacrificed so much for? Nothing is certain, but unless I rebuild after my losses, my personal victory lap will always elude me. You’ve got to fight to win, so I’ve got to dig deep, put on my eye black, put aside the pain and weariness, put the losses behind me, and give it another swing.