A Drive Home With Junior Seau
Today, I drove out to visit and spend time with my parents. A drive that takes about 45 minutes. But the bridges, tunnels, and road blocks make it seem like it takes hours.
The awe-inspiring sunset I gawk at as I drive through the farm fields approaching the small town where they live and where I grew up, is in stark contrast with the bumper-to-bumper traffic that precedes it.
The journey out there is a story in itself. One that takes perspective, patients, and perseverance. And one that deserves appreciation. I always wave when someone graciously let’s me in during traffic. So the guy who doesn’t wave as I let him in, angers me. For 1.3 seconds I’m mad. Then the refreshing outlook of John Mayer’s “Stop This Train“ brings the situation into perspective.
The road to my parent’s house is a lot like the road of life. We have traffic jams, when nothing seems to be going our way. When life seems like it’s at a halt. Our progress, for the moment, stopped. We know where we want to go, but we’re not moving forward. We have a goal. A mission. But cars, obstacles, and roadblocks prevent us from reaching our destination in the timely manner we’d like to arrive in.
Even if our timing is perfect. We still have to have the tools to get there. We need transportation. We need to figure out the fastest, most direct route. But as much as we know where we want to go. How we’re going to get there. And how great it’s going to be when we get there – because we’re so confident, that our success is a foregone conclusion – we still have to do the work, make the sacrifices, and do what’s needed to arrive safely.
The road of life is filled with twists and turns. Nothing goes according to plan. And anything – and everything – worthwhile takes a determination and tenacity that only few ever posses. The few, the successful, those after something greater than a paycheck, will arrive. They’ll have done so by overcoming fears, obstacles, and have a bag full of life lessons reserved for the few who truly live.
But what if things don’t go our way? Odds are they won’t. Nothing on the journey of life is perfect. Nothing goes according to plan. Nothing is easy. The difficult moments are what build character. The tough times are what develop tough people.
I’ve taken this drive hundreds of times. Yet on this day, for some reason, I’m uncharacteristically philosophical about it. I recognize the fact that I’m pissed off at the guy I let in front of me for not waving. I’m forgiving of the guy – or girl – who cut me off (I didn’t catch up to them to give them ‘the look’. I just let it go).
As I arrive at my parent’s home the smell of the crisp my Mom is baking for desert is almost as welcoming as my dog. His tail wagging as he runs down the stairs. His howl, one of pure joy. As is mine. I roll on the ground with him. Joke with my Mom and my Sister. Hugs around. And then I head to my Old Man’s office and get to work.
The computer opened. Www.espn.com is typed loudly, almost angrily onto the keyboard (for some reason I type very aggressively). The heading “Junior Seau Dead at the Age of 43″ hits me like an unexpected punch to the stomach. It confuses me like a riddle. I watch a video of Seau’s Mother. It’s heart-wrenching. No pain compares to that of a mother at the death of her child.
The theory that his death was a suicide hasn’t come out yet. A theory that leads to the obvious notion that the effects of concussions lead to depression and often suicidal thoughts. Effects to the brain that have taken other warriors before him. Allegedly taking one of my favorite fighters of all time, Arturo Gatti. The definition of a warrior.
As I sit there. In my Dad’s office. My dog to my right. Surrounded by the books of a man who’s dedicated his life to learning and to helping others. I’m struck with the notion that life is fleeting. It’s here for a moment. Even the strongest, most admired warriors of our time die. Even the heroes we put on pedestals are no more than men. Like you and me. Flawed. In pain. At times suffering. But hopefully, always moving forward, towards something bigger. Something better. Holding on to the fact that after a dark night there’s always a bright day.
On Junior Seau’s journey, his body was a Mack Truck. Mine a sedan. His journey would be one very different than mine, but one that shares the similar ups and downs. Bumps and potholes. Traffic jams and accidents that we all have in our lives.
My Old Man’s desk. One day I’ll sit in it and remember my Dad as he was. Not think of him as he is. Think about this the next time you see your Dad, best friend, Mom, Grandfather, Grandmother, or sibling. Listen to what they have to say. Appreciate who they are. Be in the moment. Understand that neither they nor you will be here forever.
“Live as you would have wished to live when you are dying”. Christian Furchtegott Gellert