Monday, December 2, 2013

#037 The Gift of Thanks

"Sorry means you feel the pulse of other people's pain as well as your own, and saying it means you take a share of it. And so it binds us together, makes us trodden and sodden as one another. Sorry is a lot of things. It's a hole refilled. A debt repaid. Sorry is the wake of misdeed. It's the crippling ripple of consequence. Sorry is sadness, just as knowing is sadness. Sorry is sometimes self-pity. But Sorry, really, is not about you. It's theirs to take or leave."  ― Craig SilveyJasper Jones

For those who know me well, you know that I wear my heart on my sleeve.  I am quick to laugh out loud, and just as easy, will a tender moment bring me to tears.  I have always been somewhat of a nomad socially.  I easily drift through the world of diverse and eclectic souls, and I have always quickly made friends...often times with those much older (in years) than I.  I find all people fascinating, and I have found very few who do not hunger for comfort, peace, joy and tenderness.  Most people I have found simply want a connection to others, so they feel less small in our very big world in an even bigger universe of uncertainty.  I am quite confident that churches across this land remain full because of this need to know that others feel their uncertainty or simply for the lessons of hope and wisdom that often comes from gospel that has stood the test of time for centuries. 

If it has lasted this long, it must be significant.

One of my former players lost her father the day before Thanksgiving.  He was a great guy and an even better father.  He and his wife were at every game and never said a peep to me that wasn't completely positive and supportive.  Even after he got sick for the first time about a year ago, his sense of humor and love for watching his daughter play basketball was ever present.  I am thankful for John, and his most wonderful wife and family, because he taught me to be present.  He demonstrated in all that he did that the world around him was not bigger than the spirit inside him. 

I know I don't always do a good job of clearly transitioning the title of my blogs to the quote at the top and then to my words.  My flow of consciousness has always worked that way.  My dad taught me to be a point guard who saw the play happen 5 steps before it actually happened, and my mom taught me to visualize my future and my dreams.  When you put the two together, I sometimes forget to fill in the blanks, so please bare with me in those moments.  I'll get to the point soon enough.

So, how does "the gift of thanks" relate to "sorry is a lot of things" with the loss of a good man thrown in the middle?

To say "I'm sorry" or to say "thank you," it is the receiver who makes it genuine.  It really has nothing to do with the person speaking the words as Mr. Silvey so eloquently stated above.

Here's an example of what I mean.  My daughter loves looking at all of the pictures on my phone.  I have hundreds of them and probably 75% of those pictures are of her and her brother.  However, it is the other 25% that merges thank you and I am sorry together for me.  The other 25% are predominantly pictures of my former players' children.  I look at them often, and I take great pride in those pictures the same way I do when I look at the pictures of my nieces and nephews and my great-nieces and nephews. 

I am thankful for the memories they represent, and I am sorry I am not able to give those people (who I love dearly) more...more love, more attention...more reassurance that no matter what, they will always have someone in their life that believes in them more than they could ever imagine.  Most of us are lucky if we have parents and families who provide that support.  However, when we have someone who has no blood-relation to us to give us that backbone of support, it completely changes our view of the world and inspires us to be that for someone least it does for me.

I have really great relationships with about 95% of my former players.  We talk on the phone, through email, Twitter, Facebook, etc., and I am always thrilled that they still want me to be a part of their lives...even if it is just a text at the holidays once or twice a year with a "thank you" or a picture of their babies.

It is the other 5% that I often day-dream about, though. I failed that group.  I didn't treat them any differently, but I didn't find the key to unlocking their hopes and dreams, and I regret that.  As I get older, more and more of that 5% has started to reach out to me for some reason or another.  I think we are maturing (them faster than me probably), and I think we both are searching for a way to say "I am sorry" and "thank you" all at the same time.  That's tough, but I am always praying for it to happen. 

What that 5% doesn't understand is that they have never done anything to me to be sorry about.  They were young and finding their way, and I was passionate and ornery, and I didn't do a good enough job of making sure they heard the words "I love you" and "I believe in you."  I say these words a lot to people in my life, but I have learned that is not always enough.

As we celebrate the passing of another Thanksgiving Day, I know I am thankful for the opportunity to receive thanks from those I have coached, but I will be even more thankful when they are able accept the shared sorry...for whatever that means to them.

Keep making your moments count and your true feelings heard. 

Best regards,

Coach Matt Rogers
Twitter:  @madcoachdiary