Thursday, January 5, 2012


“Keep on going, and the chances are that you will stumble on something, perhaps when you are least expecting it. I never heard of anyone ever stumbling on something sitting down.”

-Charles F. Kettering


 I just can’t get the end of the regular session of the OUTBACK (and not the Capital One) Bowl game between Michigan State and Georgia. Another thing that I know about the school in East Lansing is that it is truly a community and going out on a limb (cause I have never been to Athens, Ga) but schools like Georgia, your UNC-Chapel Hill and most definitely your A², there is an air of entitlement beneath all the other unknown variables that await young adults away from home at university. Because I know what is like on the campus by the Red Cedar River, there is an identification that makes a State win a triumph for ‘all of us’. Not only did the Bulldogs have the Spartans beaten in the 4th quarter, but in the overtime as well. The differences between the two benches at the end of the game, and then at the start of overtime… just thinking about it brings tears to my eyes, I am telling you!

The Michigan victory in the Sugar Bowl was another game that served as an object lesson for me and also an example of one of my ‘Rules To Live By’.

“In every battle there comes a time when both sides consider themselves beaten; then he who continues the attack, wins.” –Ulysses S. Grant

I could have used this for my previous entry when I spoke about the State win over Georgia, but when it comes to Sparty, wins where they display that kind of character is de rigueur.  Tom Izzo in coaching men’s basketball and Ron Mason head hockey coach uses ‘character’ as a metric in determining the kind of player that they recruit.  For Michigan, it did not seem like that was the way things were done, that it matters what kind of person they recruited.  I have this hazy memory of Michigan athletes being among those colleges whose athletic departments who had the most interactions with local law enforcement.  But both with their basketball coach and their new head coach, it seems that it is just as important WHO a player is as well as how well a player can perform in their respective sport.

In one interview, Brady Hoke, the Michigan football coach, was asked what he told his players after a first half of ineffective football, at least, offensively speaking.  “Just keep playing,” is what he told the reporter, the implication being that if they did not give up and kept competing, that something eventually would go their way.

So I guess it looks like the Wolverines have a coach that I can root for and the Buckeyes have hired another cat I could do without.  I was never a Jim Tressel fan, mainly for some of the same reasons that some dismiss Tim Tebow.  For me the difference is the confirmation of Coach Tressel’s hypocrisy.  He cheated at Youngstown State, and I did not like that we Ohio State brought him in.  It was only a matter of time he pulled some kind of shenanigans, and I do think there is something funny about Urban Meyer… from the way he left Utah and now the way he left Florida, both were departures that make me wonder about him and his piety.  But that is me…

So Michigan kept playing even as they got outplayed for long stretches of the game and the opposing quarterback resembled Cam Newton at times.  But the Wolverines kept playing and good things happen when you can hang in until the time bell rings.


There isn’t many times where I would say that it is okay to surrender or give up.  Persistence for the most part is one of the characteristics of successful, if not happy (unless reaching happiness was included in their objective) people that I am aware of, had in common with one another.  From actors and entertainers to scientists and scholars, the path to their achievement is fraught with failure.  As Mark Twain spoke to when he said, “Ever tried?  Ever failed??  Try harder… fail better,” the idea that you have to overcome setbacks is part of the process to achievement.

Yet there are times where it is better to fold your hand and wait until the next deal.  Perhaps you have reach beyond what you can manage as a reasonable risk in case you are fated to lose not matter what.  I offer myself as an example of breaking this rule.


In my early thirties when I still may have been among those among the ‘fringes’ of boxers who could on any given night win against a top cat, most likely give a good account of themselves in a loss, and beat up-and-coming cats who weren’t as good as advertised.  I don’t think I could have been considered ‘grizzled’ but I was getting phone calls and after taking a break moving from Carolina back to the Motor, I started to take a path that was not too different from the one that Mickey Ward took that eventually led to his ascension to the folk hero status that resulted in a movie of his experience.

Living in Plymouth, I ran into Tee Jay at one of our employer’s sites and we started hanging out.  ‘Doing as I do’, I let her in on the outline I had for my life and asked her if she was interesting in being a part of what I was doing.  What I was doing this:  I knew that I was into ‘extra time’ on my athletic odometer and I wanted to see what I could squeeze out of myself before I called it a career.

The Mickey Ward-Rocky thing happens in boxing a LOT more often that you’d suspect, and I did not even think of reaching that level.  I would have been content to have reached the ESPN-Fox Sports level for a couple of fights, pocketed the money and called it a day.  Not only that, who knows if I would not hit ‘the journeyman’s lotto’ and knock off a hyped prospect or contender sleepwalking on ‘my night’, you know what I am saying?


Anywho, I explained to her much what I have explained in my journal.  Looking back over my adult life, the pattern of my relationship status v. personal achievement was pretty obvious as to the reasons for my fail.  And that is why when I broke things down to her and she said “yes”, to the boundaries of our relationship, I think that things went well for us.

I slipped and lost one fight early in our relationship, but I would win four other fights and the future looked like the one that I, no, that WE, had envisioned together.

See, having that shared vision to work towards, everything else in our life together would fall into place.  Instead of being a ‘random couple’, we were a team, both contributing to that thing that was larger than our individual desires, no one considering who contributed more, but making considerable contributions all the same.  I also told her that I felt that I had my shot at ‘this and that’, both related in this instance, and that this was going to be ‘it’.

When our break-up occurred, it was not only the loss of a relationship.  It also meant that the ‘timelessness’ that surrounded us was broken, and I was now operating in ‘extra time’.  The concept of extra time is like the one regarding extra time in soccer.  The game, like real life, runs on a constantly ticking clock.  But just as the time in life can seem relative, extra time is the closest approximation to ‘measuring’ relative time against actual time, and it fits the concept that I am trying to explain.

But this is TOO LONG an entry… and I guess I will conclude another day.  Right now, I am sitting on a ton of homework that I want to finish this weekend, even taking the pre-emptive step of canceling my standing appointments so I can go live at the library!! 


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