CHAD ROBERT SNYDER
I had the opportunity to spend some time with the Azalea Bruins' seventh-grade Head Football Coach Tony Baron last Friday while his players were turning in their gear.
It was the last structured activity after a long, successful season. The players were stripping pads from game pants, detaching their mouth guards from the lids that protected them all season, and, in a cheerful tone, talking about the season now behind them.
It brought to mind my own past experiences the feeling of leaving a period in my existence behind.
Even if you knew you'd be there again next year, that season was done. It was complete.
All those experiences they had are now capped. The book is beyond revision, inked permanently for posterity. And the boys were very happy.
Maybe the way we react to such events changes over time. In retrospect, I see memories through a morosely reminiscent sort of "those were the days" mentality. But these guys, in the midst of their youth, see all sunshine and lollipops, and rightly so.
I'd like to take a page from their book and embrace all the moments in life as though there was no future, only a blissful and radiant present. It's funny too, you think to yourself in situations like the above mentioned that you might have some insight to give the next generation, something about holding on to the moments and realizing they'll never come again.
The irony is they already know that, or, better, their place in life has arrested them in a mindset where they live by some such adage. It's us, supposedly wise and insightful adults, who tend to neglect that notion.
None of them were sitting around, sad-eyed, lamenting any kind of transition. They were, however, obviously dealing with things in their own way. Paradoxically, I could sense how much what happened between them meant. They spoke unusually deliberately to each other, passed sincere complements, and smiled brilliantly all the while.
I know a lot of you will accuse me of sounding like a wistful Bruce Springstein song, crooning about the glory days as if they have any significance. Well, in beginning to defend myself, I'll say they do. Football and other sports, teams, players, coaches, bus rides and late-night fast food are all a part of an experience that some of us are fortunate enough to share. Personally, they were great moments, and I'd feel safe putting money on the chance that others share that sentiment.
I guess the experience made me want to join something, to do something fresh and new, to find a new season for myself. I look at these players a little differently now, as well. I guess now I know that they, too, sense the gravity of the passing days, but that we all, perhaps, might learn something from their unsentimental punctuation of changing seasons.