Monday Musings for January 20, 2020
Rick Reilly left “Sports Illustrated” a while back. I miss him. Here is one of his best columns:
So we were lying on our backs on the grass in the park next to our hamburger wrappers, my 14-year-old son and I, watching the clouds loiter overhead, when he asked me, “Dad, why are we here?”
And this is what I said:
“I’ve thought a lot about it, son, and I don’t think it’s all that complicated. I think maybe we are here just to teach a kid how to bunt, turn two, and eat sunflower seeds without using his hands.
“We’re here to pound the steering wheel and scream as we listen to the game on the radio, 20 minutes after we pulled into the garage. We’re here to look all over, give up, and then find the ball in the hole.
“We’re here to watch, at least once, as the pocket collapses around John Elway, and it’s fourth-and-never. Or as the count goes to 3 and 1 on David Ortiz, and the pitcher begins wishing he’d gone on to med school. Or as a little hole you couldn’t get a skateboard through suddenly opens in front of Jeff Gordon with a lap to go.
“We’re here to wear our favorite sweat-soaked Boston Red Sox cap, torn Slippery Rock sweatshirt and the Converses we lettered in, on a Saturday morning with nowhere to go and no one special we have to be.
“We’re here to shoot a six-point elk and finally get the f-stop right, or to tie the perfect fly, make the perfect cast, catch absolutely nothing and still call it a perfect morning.
“We’re here to nail a yield sign with an apple core from half a block away. We’re here to make our dog bite on the same lame fake throw for the gazillionth time. We’re here to win the stuffed bear or go broke trying.
“I don’t think the meaning of life is gnashing our bicuspids over what comes after death but tasting all the moments that come before it. We’re here to be the coach when Wendell, the one whose glasses always fog up, finally makes the only perfect back-door pass all season. We’re here to be there when our kid has three goals and an assist. And especially when he doesn’t.
“I don’t think we’re here to make ‘Sports Center.’ The really good stuff never does. Like leaving Wrigley at 4:15 on a perfect summer afternoon and walking into Murphy’s with half of section 503. Or finding ourselves with a free afternoon, a little red 327 fuel-injected 1962 Corvette convertible and an unopened map of Vermont’s backroads.
“None of us are going to find ourselves on our deathbeds saying, ‘Dang, I wish I’d spent more time on the Hiblings account.’ We’re going to say, ‘That scar? I got that scar stealing a home run from Consolidated Plumbers!’
“See, grown-ups spend so much time doggedly slaving toward the better car, the perfect home, the big day that will finally make them happy when happy just walked by wearing a baseball helmet two sizes too big for him. We’re not here to find a way to heaven. The way is heaven. Does that answer your question, son?”
And he said, “Not really, Dad.”
And I said, “No?”
And he said, “No, what I meant is, why are we here when Mom said to pick her up 40 minutes ago?”
I was going to add something profound here, but you can’t add to something that good without taking away. I hope you have a wonderful week!