Monday, July 2, 2012

On Brien Taylor, Flashes and Walls

A career in sports is only a flash in time, whether it’s a 15 season run or a 15 day run. When it all finally ends, you have to face yourself — it’s as if you are both on the mound and in the batter’s box. And it’s a standstill. Then, the reality that you cannot play anymore shocks you back to life. You hope you have saved enough money, you hope divorce doesn’t await you; you certainly don’t expect that a jail cell door might close on your freedom. - Doug Glanville
I direct you today to a lovely, downright poetic post along the lines of there but for the grace go I, by ex-everybody outfielder Doug Glanville in the NY Times. Glanville was a first round pick out of UPenn who had seasons of fantasy league relevance for Chicago and Philadelphia, and he's clearly got his way with a keyboard. The whole thing is worth a read, especially if you aren't familiar with the sad saga of Brien Taylor, the flameout flamethrower and #1 overall pick for the Yankees who, after an injury created in a fight, lost the fastball for good. Taylor, now 40, is also now facing a world of legal trouble from a world of bad decisions. Anyway, go, read.

What struck me about the piece is how Glanville gets that what seems inevitable, which is to say our own personal success and development, based on the faith that we hold inside -- is gossamer-thin in its fragility. And as always when you hear such thing, you think about how you might have behaved, if you were in someone else's shoes.

At the age of 30 in my own personal life, I got married for the second time, agreed and then backed out of buying a home, prompting legal action, conceived my first child, moved across the country, lost a job, gained and lost 25 pounds, moved twice, racked up massive debt, cashed out my 401K, consulted for a half dozen businesses and started a 2-year period in which I listed five different employers...

And when all of that finally cleared, had jumped my salary by 250%, had a beautiful and healthy baby girl that has now grown up to one of the best people I know, and made the connections and started the career path that I've followed for the last 11+ years.

This is not, by the way, a Yay Me realization or thought process. At the time, it was simply a crisis mode where my spouse supported me throughout with unshakable but not unquestioning faith, and I drew on a similarly ridiculous period of my time when I frog-marched my way through college. Then, it was my mother providing the support, but in both cases, the same thought process predominated...

I have no other options, so there are no distractions.

My course is clear.

There's a wall ahead of me, and I'm going through it.

Sucks to be the wall.

Now, Glanville is absolutely correct on the flash in time bit. The only injuries that threaten a writer / ad guy are the same injuries that threaten our day to day existence; sanity and cognitive abilities that I'm hoping will be with me until the next plane. There's nothing that I do today that I shouldn't be able to do for a very long time, unlike the ability to throw a ball very fast, or hit said thrown ball. But the greater reality is that every career is only a flash in time, since that's all every life is.

About an hour south of here, there were a raft of violent thunderstorms that knocked down some trees the other day, killing a couple of people in a tent. That's far-fetched and dramatic, of course, but all we have is time, and no one knows how much of it there is.

Brien Taylor's life as a successful person ended in a similar flash, thunderclap, instant. A bad decision that was never overcome, a monumental but understandable lapse of judgment that led to the premature death of a dream. He had no other dream to take its place, and no better support system to make him understand that dreams are things that are made, over and over again, with only the dreamer capable of bringing to life.

And that, of course, is just the dream that I tell to myself, and in no way assured, and if things go very badly for me in the future, my ability to dream something new will be severely tested.

I'm hoping, as well all do, that the big tests are over, and that the new problems will be ones I haven't had before.

I'm also hoping, because life is just too difficult in any other way, that you are also living your dream. And if not, that you do soon. For any number of reasons, the least of which is that tragedies are all around us.

And no one should ever root for the wall.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

GREAT post, very well written; written better than most of what I will read on espn.com, cnnsi.com, and foxsports.com.

congrats

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