One Perfect Passage

Every kid who plays baseball dreams of hitting the game-winning home run in the World Series.   Basketball players want to make the winning shot at the buzzer and football players want to score the winning touchdown.  Jordan Game Winner

For musicians, I suppose the dream is to play in front of a large audience with thousands of fans singing your words back to you.Garth in concert

It’s different for writers.  When we give a live performance, nobody ever raises a lighter in hopes we read another excerpt from our book.  And there’s almost never any panties thrown up on the podium.

For me – and I’m guessing it’s like this with many writers – the dream is that my words find a permanent place within you.  That they bang around the inside of your head or wrap themselves around your heart and squeeze out something you didn’t know was there.  Maybe a depth of empathy or a height of outrage that you hadn’t experienced before.

When you read what I write, you let me into your heart a little bit.  And when I write, I’m inviting you into mine.  And we’re connecting in a way that maybe only the musicians can.  Yet not in some sold-out arena, but in your favorite chair.  And while you’ll never cheer or whistle or clap, maybe you’ll crack a smile or shed a tear. It’s intimate, our connection.

There have been passages of books that have had that kind of impact on me.  None greater than the last few pages of How Green Was My Valley by Richard Llewellyn.  Once or twice a year I find myself thumbing my way to the last few pages of that book to read what is probably the most beautiful thing I’ve ever read or ever will read.  I won’t share it here, but if you want your heart squeezed the way I describe above you’d be doing yourself a favor to read that novel.

Words are immortal. If I could just string some together in a way that move people in the way that Llewellyn has moved me, I think that’s all I would ever need as a writer. Just that one perfect passage.

What about you?  Have you ever read anything that stuck with you so much that you actually feel as if your DNA has been changed?

And what’s your “one perfect passage?”  Whether you’re a teacher or a police officer or a nurse or a mom or a Christian or whatever…what’s that one thing you strive for that makes it all worth while?

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What Do Champs Do?

It was probably one of my better motivational speeches. It was the third inning and we were down by the score of 0-5 in a tourney in which the team I coach was the #1 overall seed.  We’d just given up 3 runs and the boys were dragging a little as they jogged in from the field toward the dugout.  Before going in to bat, I called everyone over and had the team in a small circle outside our dugout.  I channeled my inner Gipper.

The Real Gipper

“What do champs do?” I asked. (Note that we won the regular season championship, thus the #1 seed.)

“Win”

“Battle”

“Score runs”

I took off my sunglasses and bent over, hands on my knees.  Scanning the eyes of my boys, I asked again,

“What do champs do?”

“Champs win!”

“Hit”

and then Tyler said what I was wanting to hear…

“Come back”

“Yeah.  Yeah,” I said.  “Champs come back.”

I put my arm around James to my right and Hunter to my left and again asked,

“So what do champs do?”

“Come back,” everyone said in unison.

“What do champs do?” And now everyone had their arms around their teammates shoulders and they said louder

“Come back!”

I repeated the question one more time and the looks on their faces started to match the intensity I was feeling myself.

COME BACK!”

And we did.  We scored 3 runs that inning off a pitcher who had dominated us up until that point. The score was now 3-5 bad guys.

And then we scored 3 more runs the next inning off a new pitcher. Suddenly it was 6-5 good guys!  The champs had come back!

Long story short…we lost the game.  Didn’t see that coming, did you?

Here’s the thing, though.  Yes, champs come back, but they also lose.  Look at the Blackhawks, for example.  They’ve won 3 championship titles in the past 6 years.  But guess what – that means they weren’t champions for 3 of the past 6 years.

Blackhawks Lose

Whether it’s the next inning, the next game, the next season, or the altogether new and different challenge…champions come back.  They learn and grow from both the wins and the losses.  They handle both with dignity and regardless of the previous outcome, champs are always determined to win the next one.

I’m guessing that most of us have things we’re trying to come back from right now.  Some with greater challenges than others, perhaps.  But you can only win the game your playing.  So go triumph.  Hoist that trophy high.  You’re a champion, dammit.

Champs come back

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