Tuesday, January 3, 2012

triumph and disaster

In the movie Back to the Future the main character is able to reverse an event in the past and change the future. He leaves the present and a home that is depressing, intercedes in the past, returns back to the past's future and finds a home that is bright and uplifting.

We can probably identify some pivotal events in our past and see how our successes had positive effects on our current lives. And the opposite is also true.

It would be great if we were strong enough to move on in the past's future--our present--unaffected by our past successes and unencumbered by our past failures. Difficult to do. At least it is difficult for me.

And tonight it will be difficult for a fellow named Williamson who plays football for Stanford University.

Rudyard Kipling's great poem If contains the lyric, "If you can dream and not make dreams your master; if you can think, but not make thoughts your aim. If you can meet with triumph and disaster and treat those two imposters just the same."

Tonight at the end of a thrilling game, Williamson--a freshman kicker for Stanford, had an opportunity to win the game by kicking an easy field goal at the end of regulation. He hooked it wide left. At the beginning of overtime, he also missed a field goal. His counterpart made a field goal at the end of overtime to win the game for the opponent, Oklahoma State.

This is a recurring incident in college football. In earlier blogs I have written about a kicker for Boise State who also missed field goals which cost the team dearly.

Our present and future is benefited, I believe, if we can treat triumph and disaster as two imposters. And I hope that Williamson, a 19 or 18 year old, who at this moment must feel terrible, will be able to move on.

There is another line from the poem which goes like this. "If you can make a heap of all your winnings and risk it on one turn of pitch and toss--and lose--then start at your beginnings, and never breathe a word about your loss." Tough to do, but something to keep in mind when you feel like Williamson does right now. I know for myself I try to hold onto that wisdom when there has been a loss of what seems like a heap of winnings. But it is not easy. And it will not be easy for Williamson.

1 comment:

  1. I watched Williamson's miss in regulation time and had some sympathy. Morbid curiosity about how his reaction would be reported by the bloodthirsty press. When I read he was "sobbing" in front of his locker my gut reaction was "what a wimp" . Kicking a field goal under these circumstances was brutal, but breaking down - though human- left me shaking my head. If Williamson was my own son I'm sure I'd feel differently. More empathy. But sobbing? Can't relate or condone, and I'm a bit of a pussy myself. I've cried once or twice in the last 45 years, but not over something like a missed field goal. Williamson will be defined for crying as much as for missing the field goal.