I never thought I would be alive to say that the Chicago Cubs won the World Series! I mean, honestly. Who’da thunk that after 108 long, painful years, the lovable losers would end the “curse” and finally get it done! While there may be “no crying in baseball”, there were certainly tons of tears shed at the end of the series – myself being one of the tear shedders.
Perhaps one of my favorite memories of the hours of coverage that has been plastered on the internet over the past couple of days is the video of Bill Murray, a lifelong Cub fan, standing in the dugout and simply giggling with sheer joy over the success of this team that he has never stopped believing in. His effervescent laughter was – at least from my perspective – not just about his beloved team winning this coveted award, but the overwhelming sense of happiness and thanks that pours out of our hearts when something that we have been reaching for and believing in finally came to fruition.
Now I realize there are many people who don’t follow baseball and really couldn’t care less about the Cubs winning the series, but to me, the fact that they not only stunned the fans by making it to the series but were able to take it all the way to the W is such a testament to the resilience that each and every one of us has within us; to our human ability to keep our eye on the prize and not let the roar – or silence – of the crowd sway our determination. Unfortunately, it’s the tuning out of the crowd that often proves impossible.
I was recently talking to a friend of mine about the fact that after many months of searching for a new job, I was blessed to have 2 strong opportunities in front of me and the challenge to select the right job for me was proving to be difficult. As we talked, my friend made the statement that if she were in this situation, she would most likely made the “wrong” choice.
This statement honestly broke my heart. In one single sentence, she reflected the complete sense of failure she felt about herself and her life in general. In the shot 10 seconds it took for her to make this statement, she showed me the toll that the silence of the crowd had made on her self-image. She was defeated by that perceived curse. While it took everything I had not to launch into some sort of cheer-leading speech for her, I knew nothing I could say or do was going to change her perception. I also knew that her sense of failure is something I have personally struggled with and have watched many around me struggle with as well.
The thing is, there really are no “wrong” choices. Life isn’t a “one game opportunity”. It’s a series of successes and failures that build upon one another. There is no such thing as an overnight success or even an overnight failure. Each moment if our lives builds on the others, our unique gifts and talents help us shape our understanding of these moments, and we create a life. To me, the difference in the life that appears to be successful and the life that doesn’t isn’t about the moments or the choices, but the way we choose to respond to those things.
I know what you’re thinking. You and I both know someone (or several someones) that seem to be always trying to move forward but life just beats them down. There just never seems to be a break for them. I get that. I used to be one of those people. It seemed that at every turn, whatever could go wrong did. Much as I prayed and begged, I just couldn’t catch the break I needed to get my head above water. There were health concerns, job losses, relationship issues, car troubles, and on and on. This struggle probably started when I was in grade school and continued until very recently.
I’m not saying that all of the struggles stopped; that my life suddenly became some magical wonderland. There wasn’t a sudden “viola” moment, no sudden lottery win that turned things around for me. Instead it was a slow shift in my mindset; a turning of the Titanic, so to speak.
I came to the realization that the things that ran through my mind on a regular basis about myself and the world around me had a significant impact on the things I positive or negative things that came to me. The more I focused on negativity, the more negative things came into my life. If I grumbled and complained about my job, my job became less and less satisfying. If I focused on the things I felt were ‘wrong’ in my life, I became a depressed, negative person whom nobody wanted to be around let alone someone who people flocked to help. But if focused on remembering each day that I am blessed beyond measure; if I took the time each day to list just one or two things I was grateful for, my perception of my life in general would be more positive and more positive things would begin to happen. Bottom line, if I chose to be more like Bill Murray, my joy about my life in general could be more like his as well.
As I watched the joy and laughter on the faces of Cubs players and fans alike, I couldn’t help but think of how those rookie ball players felt the moment they were told they were going to play in Chicago. Maybe they were disappointed that their dream of playing for a winning major league team was never going to come to fruition; that all of the years of hard work and practice they put into this dream simply didn’t pan out and they were destined to be a part of a losing team. Each of them could also have decided that they, like the previous players, would be continually haunted by the “goat curse” that had plagued this team for over a century.
But they didn’t.
Each of these young men did something entirely different. They decided to take each moment for what it was – an opportunity to do whatever they could to achieve something great. They reveled in the joy of being able to play a game they loved and get paid to do it, and they put all they had into overcoming a century-old image. They enjoyed the journey, celebrating the wins and losses with not just the other players, but with those that supported them all along like Bill Murray and even me and my fellow Cubbie fans. And the fact of the matter is, each of us has the same opportunity each and every day. Sometimes we will fail, sometimes we will succeed, but if we can just pick ourselves up, learn from the errors and move forward, we will succeed more often than we fail and live a more joyful and blessing filled life through the journey.
The fact of the matter is this. Each of us has our own “curse” to overcome. We have the voices in our heads and the memories of epic fails that come to mind every time we reach for something new or seemingly unattainable. Sometimes the road we have been on has been plagued with epic fails and we begin to feel as though we will be that faithful Cubs fan who waited their entire life but only felt disappointment. The challenge is to see beyond the painful moments and keep that light that is the success we are seeking glowing in our heart; to be the Bill Murray for our own lives and find the joy in every moment and be ready to overflow with happiness when the end we are seeking finally arrives.
As I sit here and think about the Cubs winning the Series, I cannot help but feel bolstered
in my own life. I have been the “cursed” one; the defeated one. I have been the one that everyone always bet against. If you are there now – if you are feeling beaten down like my friend, I pray that you will reach out. Let’s chat about how you’re feeling and hold one another up as we walk this road together. Together, we can be the team that persists and wins and all the scrapes and battles along the way will merely be fodder for stories for the generations; stepping-stones we took to get to the end.